What Are You Thankful For?

November 22, 2017

It feels so cliche to ask this question this time of year. It even seems boring to talk about gratitude when we are so busy, almost too busy, this time of year to even stop and think about what it is that we are grateful for. For the first few years that I was doing the annual medical mission trip to Haiti, I was leaving the day after Thanksgiving, travelling through Miami and into Port-au-Prince. It was such a warm, comforting time of year and the season of gratitude had a lot to do with that feeling.

But when I would return, the last thing I would be thinking about is what I was grateful for. I would actually feel aghast when someone would say something like “it really makes you feel grateful to be and American.” When you are in an environment like the one in this picture, where patients are queued up for hours, hoping to have their medical concerns addressed by visiting doctors and PAs who came only once a year in an open air clinic, gratitude is not the prevailing feeling you experience.

My heart was not warmed, at the time, by the fact that I was going home to an insulated, climate-controlled home with a comfortable mattress and wood floors. But there was a sort of feeling of conviction there, that I had received so much in my life,  yet had given so little. This is not meant to shame anyone into giving, that would be the wrong reason to give anyway, but in this season of gratitude and giving, I prefer to take time to consider if my gratitude promotes an attitude toward giving to those with unmet needs.

This Thanksgiving, I hope we all find an opportunity to stop and consider what we have to be thankful for, and then extend that opportunity to thank God for everything that has shaped our lives, the good and the bad, and the lives of those around us. But let’s not stop there. Having an opportunity to positively impact the lives of strangers, maybe even those in a foreign land, is perhaps one of the greatest parts of being so materially wealthy in this country. I want to humbly suggest that we set out to look for ways that we can selflessly give, just because it is a blessing to bless others.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s a short Bible study on the link between gratitude and generosity that you may enjoy doing on your own or with some family this weekend.

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:10-15, NIV)

Questions to answer (for the adult):

  1. Who is the “person” giving the food and seed to the sower?
  2. How does the blessing of the harvest provoke the receivers of the harvest to be more generous?
  3. How does our generosity toward others indicate a grateful heart toward God?
  4. What other biblical examples can you think of where gratitude and generosity are linked?

Questions to answer (for the kid):

  1. What’s the best gift you ever received?
  2. How does it make you feel when people give you something you need?
  3. How does it make you feel when you give things to others that they really needed?
  4. How does helping others show God that we are grateful for what He has given to us?