Written by Lawrence Yoo
Do you teach your children to say thank you? I bet you do. Why do we do that? Maybe it’s because we’ve seen the results of a lack of thankfulness, and we don’t want our children to become spoiled, rotten, or entitled. To avoid this outcome, we need to build a heart of thankfulness in our children, and if we want to become more Christlike, we also must choose thankfulness.
How do you teach thankfulness in a culture of excess and wealth? I remember as a child I desperately wanted a billabong jacket. It was expensive, but all the kids had a billabong jacket. I begged my parents, worked really hard, saved my money, and I finally got one. I wore it even when it wasn’t cold (this was Florida after all). I loved it and I knew it’s value. The problem now is that I just buy my kids jackets without thinking about it.
One of our church members works for Save the Children and if you ever eat with her, she prays a heartfelt prayer of thanks for having food. She knows the statistics and she has seen firsthand how many people go without food. How can we cultivate that same kind of thankfulness? I don’t know about you, but if I’m disappointed in my food, I tend not to be thankful and sometimes I just forget. It shouldn’t be this way. Cultivating a heart of thankfulness is a key component of developing Christian character. Jesus set an example when he fed the multitudes. He broke bread and gave thanks, even though it didn’t look like enough.
So, what steps can we take to move forward? How do we give thanks when everything goes wrong? Sometimes there really is a lack. Sometimes everything does go wrong. Are we called to be thankful in those times? First of all, I want to say that we can always be honest before God. We can say, “I don’t feel thankful. I don’t feel cared for.” At the same time, we can ask for a thankful heart, and we can start to train our minds by starting small. We can go back to the truths of scripture: God is always with us, He will never leave us, He knows what we need, He has given me many good things.
I hope that this Thanksgiving we will reminder to cultivate thankfulness in our hearts and in the hearts of our children. As we celebrate may we be spurred on to further thankfulness, and may our hearts and souls feel gratitude over every blessing.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of
lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”-James 1:17 ESV