Last week I had a discussion with my fellow ECFE (Early Childhood/Family Education) parents about teaching our children how to appreciate what they have. We talked specifically about when our children don't eat the food we put in front of them and how they whine, complain or refuse to eat it. I mentioned how I've often talked to my children about the "starving children in Africa." I've even pulled up pictures my husband took when he was in Africa to show them the reality, but they still complain.
Tonight I realized I needed a "starving children in Africa" example, too.
So often I worry and stress over the silliest things. The laundry is piling up, the floors need to be mopped, the bedding needs to be changed, the refrigerator needs to be cleaned and on and on and on. I find myself complaining and not appreciating that I have a home to clean and a family to care for.
A few minutes ago I read a CaringBridge Update from an influential member of our community who has been battling cancer for three years, and yesterday he was told there is nothing left for the doctors to do.
He wrote the update himself and his words are so beautiful, they left me in tears. His faith is astounding and his outlook has always been incredible, and remains so. He offered God thanks and praise with each word he wrote. The snow my husband and I were complaining about this morning as we brought our family to church, is the same snow that he appreciated.
I can't imagine what it would be like to write the update he just did - and it was the wake up call I needed.
I have so much, including good health, but I still complain and whine. The word that continued to come to me is trite. My complaints and troubles are so trite. There is so much to be thankful for, but like my little children, I whine and complain even when I have a bountiful feast in front of me.
What must God think? He sees the horror in this world. He hurts with each person who hurts. He stands beside the person who has been sold into sex slavery, He holds the hand of the sick on chemotherapy, He cradles the grieving parent, He directs the hands of the children digging through the dump heap, He sooths the battered bodies, the wounded souls, the addicted minds - and when I bring my incomparable troubles to Him, He still comforts me as much as He comforts the others.
But, like my children, He tells me: You have so much. Appreciate what you have and be thankful for it.
The Bible calls our praise and thanksgiving a sacrifice and I believe one of the reasons it's called a sacrifice is because it's not something that comes easily to us. We have to offer it to Him in every area of our lives, by the way we treat others, by the words we speak, by the things we do with our time, in every action and decision - from a heart that truly believes we are blessed. It's not a matter of lip service, but heart service. When we do this, when we look for the things to be thankful for, we'll begin to see them more and more and we'll truly live a life that reflects the blessings of our Father.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34
What about you? I'd love to hear what you're thankful for today.