Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

The Importance of Being Thankful

Christmas Tree

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last week I was thinking a lot about this quote. I was thinking that being thankful is not something we are to do only one day a year, or one week a year. We are to be thankful all the time. Being thankful is more than a holiday, it is a lifestyle.

We are in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year. We are in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone is trying to wind down the year. People are busy trying to wrap things up at school or work and get ready for the holiday season. Many of us are spending our free time shopping or decorating, so everything will be just right. Things are busy.  Last week was Black Friday where mobs of people flooded stores trying to get the best deals. Black Friday is kind of what it is like between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is chaotic. It is hectic. We are going this way and that way, and it’s hard to find time to slow down and just breathe.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas should not be this way. Just think about it. We are in between a time of being thankful and a time of giving. It should not be a time of worry and burden, but that is exactly what we have turned it into. We have turned the holiday season into this gigantic consumeristic monster, and we rarely slow down to remember it is all about giving and being thankful.

This is why I like the above quote by Bonhoeffer. Although Bonhoeffer could have never imagined what the holiday season was going to turn into, his quote describes it perfectly.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”

We focus all of our attention on these big things like Black Friday, Christmas sales, and getting the latest greatest gadgets on the market, and we forget to give thanks for the ordinary and small gifts in our life. We forget about what is really important. It is not the latest in technology that we need to be focused on, but it is the small ordinary things that happen to us everyday. These are the things that are really important.

We are not only reminded of this in the quote by Bonhoeffer, but we also find it in the life of Jesus. If you only had twelve hours to live what would you do? If you only had twelve hours to live what things would you be thankful for? Twelve hours before Jesus is crucified on a cross, it is the small ordinary gifts that he counts as important. Luke describes it for us in Luke 22:19.

“And he took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them…”

Twelve hours before his death Jesus is found sharing a meal with his friends.  He sets down, takes some bread, and gives thanks.  We are running around, hustling and bustling, worried about what we believe to be the big things in life, and Jesus gives thanks for a meal with friends and a little bit of bread.

We must remember that everything in life is a gift, and we must be careful not to miss the small things. We are surrounded by all kinds of gifts that we do not give thanks for, simply because we do not see them. They go unnoticed. We break bread. We eat everyday, but how often do we view it as a gift? How often do we sit down at the dinner table and pray, “God thank you for this gift.” This is just one example of the small gifts in our lives, but there are many more. Each breath we breathe is a gift from God.  Each drop of rain we receive is a gift. Each new day and each ray of sun comes from God above. We are surrounded by gifts, but we don’t take notice because we are too busy focusing on what we think is big and important. We miss the many gifts of God that surround us when we refuse to slow down and give thanks.

We are in a time of year when people are continuously spending and going into debt. On Black Friday there were reports of shootings, stabbings, and fistfights as people were trying to get the best deals available. We live in a world that has forgotten how to be thankful. We live in a world that desperately needs grace.  The sad thing is that God’s gifts, his grace, is all around us if we would simply open our eyes and learn to be thankful.

The presents we receive under the tree this holiday season will not be the most important gifts we get. Twelve hours before his death Jesus was thankful for the gifts of friends and bread. We must never forget the small things. We must never forget the importance of friends and family to share our life with. We must never forget to be thankful for the food on our table. These are the important things in life, not plasma TVs, iPads, or blu-ray players. The gifts that really matter are things we encounter everyday, but sometimes forget to enjoy. Jesus understood this, and for these things he gave thanks.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?”

As we go out into a world where Black Friday is the top sales day of the year, it is important that we learn to give thanks for the ordinary small gifts in life. When we learn to do this we will find that our life is meaningful, abundant, and full. When we learn to live a life of thankfulness we will find grace, and we will discover that God has entrusted us with much greater things.

“Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”  (1 Chron. 29:10-13)

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