Wilbur was a sweet man with a serious countenance — those who didn't know him would call him dour or crusty. But, his heart was good and generous and kind. His young grandson, who was four or five at the time, came to stay with his grandparents for a week. On weekdays, they had the typical southern breakfast — eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice, and coffee. On Saturday, however, Wilbur and Willie Maude usually had cereal and coffee or juice.

They all sat down at the breakfast table. Wilbur asked his young grandson to say the blessing. The little guy hesitated for a minute, and then prayed:

Dear God, we thank you for this breakfast... even though it's small. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Wilbur cracked up with laughter.

We do have so many things for which we can be thankful. However, if we are not careful, the challenges of the moment can wilt the joy right out of our Thanksgiving. Financial difficulties, political tumult, and family politics can put any of us on edge. Some face tough health problems. Others are hurting financially. A family that I love is deep in grief during what is supposed to be a blessed time of the year.

That type of concern easily can give way to fear. With the negative orientation, our news and gossip magazines take, our hearts may be seized with anxiety and dread. Our prayers soon become laundry lists of things for God to fix — listen to our words when we pray: "Give me!" "Help me!" "Heal me!" "Rescue me!"

Yes, we are to turn to God honestly and openly about the burdens of our hearts to "receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). But with our cries for help, we must not forget the importance of being thankful for the incredible blessings we have in life, and especially in Jesus (Colossians 4:2).

God isn't asking us for a false or forced thanksgiving. He doesn't want some simplistic relabeling of bad stuff in our lives. No matter how difficult our challenges, we have reasons to give thanks! Jesus has blessed us in so many ways. The apostle Paul calls us to focus on the deep spiritual wells of grace we have in Jesus, wrote the following words from prison:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).

Because we have Jesus, and because he has us, our future is secure. Our relationships in Christ are eternal. All partings and every agony we face here are temporary. With this hope, we can reframe all of life into a chorus song of thanksgiving:

In Jesus, the liturgy of our lives is thanksgiving!
Cultivate thankfulness. ... Let every detail in your lives — words, actions, whatever — be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way (Colossians 3:16-17 Message).

In Jesus, the liturgy of our lives is thanksgiving — not just one day a year, but every day until we are lost in the thankful wonder of His presence, at home with Him forever.

Yes, dear God, we do thank you for all the ways you have blessed us, for they are indeed GREAT, and never small!