Wilbur was a sweet man with a severe 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, coffee, and juice.
As they sat down at the breakfast table one Saturday, Wilbur asked his young grandson to say the blessing. The little guy loved his grandmother's big breakfasts. No one, however, knew what to expect when he hesitated for a minute and then prayed:
Wilbur cracked up with laughter every time he told this story!
We have so many things for which we can be thankful. However, if we are not careful, the challenges of our moment in time can wilt the joy right out of our Thanksgiving. The personal challenges of our lives, economic hardships, and the mounting losses associated with the pandemic have been painful. Rising inflation makes life harder for many people, especially folks on fixed incomes who are seriously hurting financially. Job losses, deaths, unexpected illnesses, and family problems all add their weight to our uncertainty and pain.
These ongoing concerns easily give way to fear. Given their negative orientation, our news outlets and gossip magazines increase our anxiety as fear and dread seize our hearts. Our prayers can soon become our laundry lists of things for God to fix. Don't believe me? Listen to our prayers:
"Lord, please help me..."
"Father, please heal me..."
"O God, please rescue me..."
Notice how infrequently we include praise and thanksgiving in our prayers!
Certainly, we should 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 already have in Jesus (Colossians 4:2).
God isn't asking us to offer any false or forced thanksgiving. He isn't asking us for some simplistic relabeling of bad stuff. Instead, God is calling us back to the deep spiritual wells of grace we have in Jesus.
Paul emphasized that all of our requests and intercessions should be accompanied by praise and thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2). Even more, Paul demonstrated the power of praise and thanksgiving in his letters and prayers when in 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).
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 MSG).
In Jesus, the liturgy of our lives must be our thanksgiving — not just one day a year, but every day. We offer God our thanksgiving until we enter into the thankful wonder of His presence, at home with Him, forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Yes, dear God, we thank you for all the ways you have blessed us, for they are NOT small!