Whatever the case, the choice of the Pilgrims to celebrate and give thanks to God is truly biblical. God tells us that his will is that we give thanks to him always. Yet how easy it is, and how common it is, for us to either take the many blessings we have been given for granted, or to feel grateful but to somehow not actually express that gratitude. I don’t want to make either of those errors. The truth is, though it was likely more evident to that hardy band of Pilgrims in 1621 that they had narrowly survived the previous perilous year, my life over the past year was not guaranteed either. There was no promise given to me and no certainty that I would not die in some bizarre accident or be struck down by an unexpected disease. I should be just as thankful to God for the blessing of life and the provision of the food and shelter required to sustain it over the past year as were those settlers so long ago. So I decided to take a little time to reflect on how enormously God has blessed me and to express my gratitude for his manifold grace that he has poured out on me. Here are a few things for which I wish to give thanks to God.
It may be clichéd, but I am also most grateful for the incredible people that God has put in my life. He gave me a wife that I absolutely do not deserve. Every single day I am reminded that I may well be the most fortunate human being to have ever lived because of her. What a gift Laurie is.What an unmitigated, incalculable blessing she is and I thank God for her every day!
God has given me two children who are now healthy adults, of whom I am disgustingly proud. I find these two amazing and precious people immensely enjoyable to be with. My heart swells with gratitude and joy because of them. Words fail to express how thankful I am to God for them.
I am thankful for the godly, loving and supportive parents that God gave me, and for a brother who has been one of my greatest friends since the day I was born.
Every day I find myself shaking my head in wonder because of the marvelous friends God has given me, the friends that make up our church. What a stunning manifestation of God’s grace they are to me and I am inexpressibly thankful to him and to them for how they minister to me.
Those are the most important things for which I thank God. But as I reflected on my life I thought of so many things, large and small, that enrich my existence and for which I am grateful to our God. The following is a small sample of them.
I am thankful to God that I live in the United States of America. For all of its foibles, this is still a place of great abundance, opportunity and freedom. I am allowed to live my life here with little interference from authorities (with the possible exception of our homeowners association) and though I am not materially rich compared to some in our nation, by all other standards I am truly wealthy.
I am thankful to God for our home. Despite the fact that we just had to spend a depressing amount of money to replace our water heater and not long ago it was the garbage disposal and there is more that needs to be replaced, I have a ridiculously comfortable and warm place to live. What if I had to live my life camping out? Wow, I cannot express how thankful I am for our house.
Speaking of the hot water heater, I am really thankful for hot water. I fear some day I may get arrested by the water conservation police because I so revel in a long, hot shower. In fact, now that I’m thinking about this, I will have to put running water and indoor plumbing on my list of things I’m thankful for. Are toilets great inventions or what? I am thankful for whoever thought them up. I am grateful to God that he gave them the ingenuity to create those blessings.
I am thankful for Christmas. Yes, I know that there is a problem with “Christmas creep” as the push for Christmas seems to be encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday. Still, I revel in them both. And frankly, Christmas fills my heart with warmth and joy. It’s the best part of winter. I’m like a little kid when it comes to Christmas. I can’t wait. I already have our Christmas tree up and am playing carols on our stereo. I confess that I’m a sucker for the whole thing. I even like some of the absurdly schmaltzy Christmas shows on the Hallmark channel. For me, the holiday evokes wonderful feelings about family, friends, giving and joy. But most of all, no matter how our culture may try to hide the truth, Christmas is about Jesus, and everybody knows it. I’m thankful for what Christmas means, but I’m also thankful for the celebration of it in our land and the fact that it confronts people with the reality of hope and peace in Jesus.
Speaking of playing Christmas carols on the stereo, I am boundlessly thankful to our God for music. God could easily have created a world without music. But in his grace he has given us this amazing thing that touches our hearts in deep places in ways that we can’t even express. I am thankful to God for music!
I woke up this morning, walked outside and looked at a beautiful, blue sky. I paused and reflected on the color of it. It is such a unique and lovely hue. I thank God for that glorious sky blue color. It brings me much joy.
As I thought about the beauty of the sky I reflected on what a marvel it is that I can see! Recently while helping my son study for his anatomy class we reviewed the structure of the eye. It is an astounding piece of biological engineering. I am not owed the privilege of being able to see the many and infinitely varied beautiful sights of this world, but I have this great privilege. What a gift God has given us in our eyes. I thank God for the blessing of being able to see.
That made me reflect on another blessing. I am thankful for contact lenses and glasses. Without corrective lenses the world for me becomes blurry at best. Without such lenses like a bat I could easily be reduced to navigating by sonar, except I don’t have sonar capabilities. How thankful I am that people have figured out clever ways to make up for my visual inadequacies. Again I am thankful to God for giving people the intelligence and cleverness to create such things.
My list is growing long and likely uninteresting to others already and I have barely gotten started. I haven’t even written down how thankful I am for Mexican food (without cilantro), great pizza, Laurie’s out-of-this-world apple pie, cherries, peaches, fresh Maui Gold pineapple, and other amazing favorite foods. I haven’t gotten to discuss how thankful I am for sports, and for the fact that while all-too-frequent Padre and Charger losses cause me constant recurring disappointment, angst and frustration, they cost me nothing else. I think I’d best continue my list, but not write it down for others to be bored by. What I can do is be amazed again and hope to remind others again of how many blessings God gives us and how rich our lives are because of the abundance of his grace. We have much reason to give thanks, and to keep doing it every day of our lives. What are you thankful for? Are you expressing your thanks to God? Let us never forget that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Let us be grateful for every gift, and let us always express our thanks to our heavenly Father.