The kids and I have been making a list of things we're thankful for this month. They have things on their lists like, "Angry Birds", "Horsies", and "Cake!" But there are other things that make me pause. Stuff like, "Our shoes", "The (Holy) Spirit", and "the world". I think it's pretty cool that my five-year-old daughter is thankful for her shoes when they are tattered and used old hand-me-downs. That is, until we go to the shoe aisle and her shoes suddenly look less appealing.
The truth is, most of the time my kids aren't thankful. Most of the time they are your typical "first world" children who can't see anything they have when all they want is what is just out of reach. They mostly don't appreciate the value of the incredibly blessed life they lead. My husband and I give them the short speeches about starving children in Africa when they won't eat their peas, but it goes right over their heads. Sometimes we give to charity on their behalf and watch videos about kids in other countries and how they live. But when the complaining happens, I can tell they still have a very limited perspective on their wealth.
I understand how hard it is to be thankful when you have so much. It's almost as if we were all born rich in this country, just by being born American citizens. All of our creature-needs are fulfilled from day one. The hard part is trying to choose which brand to buy. If we were to be honest, the vast majority of us struggle more with how to organize and utilize all that we already have. Unfortunately the typical American is very poor in their soul because of all that their body has access to.
What strikes me lately are the simple things my peers say and post online that they're thankful for. I'm not judging anyone's "gift list" from God, I know I have some personal blessings, myself, that would mean a lot to me but very little to others. These days, however, I've been less inspired all the "small things" that tend to dominate these lists. "Hot tea on the back porch" and "Light streaming through windows" truly are beautiful things. Nobody's knocking appreciation for all that our five senses enjoy. But God has been taking me on a very dark and scary journey through a deeper truth about the human condition.
What are the things I'm most thankful for today? Existence, salvation, God's unfailing mercy to a corrupt creation. I look at all that I have and all the people in my life and I wonder where we would be without Jesus Christ's sacrifice. Thankfulness doesn't even begin to serve as an adequate word for what I feel toward a God who salvaged a doomed race of beings. We were so close to being wiped out! We owe our very existence to Him, and every breath. The little blessings He allows us to experience mean nothing unless they can be seen as the merciful gift that they are. Even those who don't know Him or give credit to Him are able to enjoy what He set into motion. This is a God who is to be praised and honored with all that we have. I read a quote today, "It is impossible to be grateful for what we feel we were entitled to." I don't remember who said it, but it rings so true. We are a haughty and arrogant people who feel like we deserve all the good we receive. It is my privilege to be in a position to see my unworthiness and my inability to save myself. I place my entire fate on the shoulders of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Happy Thanksgiving to THAT!