Sometimes we treat God like our waiter, expecting top notch service or we’re not going to tip him. This world teaches us to be so entitled; that we deserve so much more than we do.
The remedy to this mindset is thankfulness.
Honestly the idea of thankfulness feels like it’s become only a mental exercise, reminding ourselves we don’t deserve all we have been blessed with. All year long we take for granted our bed, house, car, cell phone, and Starbucks, because they become a daily integral part of our lives. Thanksgiving comes around and we rattle off the list of things we are thankful for, say a little prayer, eat some food, and move on till next year where we remember again that we need to be thankful. I know I do this sometimes and begin to expect life to hand me all of the things I need, until something goes wrong. If our coffee is made wrong, or our waiter isn’t fast enough, our bed isn’t comfortable, or our pastor’s sermon isn’t feeding us, or our cell phone breaks, suddenly our world falls apart. I think the problem here is that thankfulness shouldn’t just be a feeling we have once or twice a year, but a mindset that leads to a lifestyle of thankfulness.
Thankfulness is meant to change us. When we don’t get what we want, or things don’t go our way, our response shows how thankful we are. Just as we are to love unconditionally, we should be thankful unconditionally. We haven’t done anything to deserve what we have. Nobody owes us anything. We really need to stop thinking we are entitled and instead have an attitude of thankfulness regardless of the service we receive from others.
Sometimes we forget about the amazing things we do have, because we focus on the things we don’t have. Life seems to go on the way it always has, until suddenly we realize we are lacking something. Then we dwell on that thing we don’t have, wishing, praying, and complaining about our lacking. Maybe it’s money, or a boyfriend/girlfriend, a smart phone, a car, or many other things we might wish we could have. But we only become unsatisfied and miserable when we stare at the empty hole in our lives. Let’s ask God to help us focus on what we have, and learn to be thankful with what we have right in front of us. Many of us have amazing people and things in our lives that we are missing out on because we are looking at how things could be better. Let’s not take what we have for granted.
Thankfulness is all about perspective. No matter what station we are in life, we can look at what we have and be thankful. People who have less, tend to be more thankful because they realize what they have is a blessing. When we simplify our lives we begin to realize we don’t need much. It’s easy to cling to things that are useless because we learn to base our happiness on the things we have. This world teaches us to always want more, always want the next updated thing, and this in turns creates a bunch of discontented people, itching for things they can’t afford. It causes us to wish we had lifestyles and relationships that are a complete fantasy. God calls us to be thankful with what we have; to live simple and quiet lives and not be corrupted by the world. We aren’t called to this because God wants us to have boring lives, but because it allows us to have peaceful and joyful lives. The glitz and glitter of this world will always let us down. Our culture is lying to us about what brings happiness.
I ‘ve learned to stay away from the mall when I don’t have money. Why torture myself by looking at things I can’t have? I get very sad and unsatisfied when I’m window shopping and see all the amazing clothes I can’t afford. But when I look in my closet and see all the clothes I do have, I create the best outfits I can with them and I feel blessed. I feel very happy in my singleness when I hang out with my single friends. But when I go to a concert or a theme park and couples are everywhere being all romantic, I begin to feel unhappy. Only when we dwell on what we can’t have, do we feel unsatisfied. What are the benefits of your situation? How can God use you right where you are with what you have?
God doesn’t just want us content, but blessed, joyful, and thriving where we are. If we are struggling to survive in a world that constantly tells us we need more, how are we supposed to be joyful and feeling blessed? This is not an easy situation. But by having an intimate relationship with Jesus, and aiming to live with an inner satisfaction with who we are and what we have, thankfulness will flow throughout our lives. Christ came as a servant, so what if we lived life as a servant to others. When we stop looking at life as if people need to cater to our needs, will begin to exude the essence of a thankful heart. We need to realize the church isn’t here to serve us, but we are here to serve the church. When we are at a restaurant, we can bless our waiter with a great tip no matter how poor their service is. When our cell phone breaks, we can find ways to communicate without a cell phone and be thankful for those people right in front of us. Instead of avoiding the beggars in front of Walmart, we can have our change ready to bless them. When we become rude and demanding in a moment of dissatisfaction, we are not just demonstrating ungratefulness with what we have, but an unhappiness with who we are. If we can’t be happy outside of tangible things, people, or services, we are essentially unhappy with ourselves. Let’s look outward and notice those who need to be loved, so we can take our eyes off ourselves.
Let’s tell people we are thankful for them with words and actions. Let’s cherish those moments with our friends and family, that so quickly vanish. When we stop expecting this world to satisfy, and we allow our happiness to flow from the peace of God within us, we will begin to see that every blessing is a precious gift from God. Let’s celebrate the abundance we have because we are rich in love!
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. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11
and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.