The following are a couple of things that may help us get in the proper frame of mind for genuine thanksgiving.
This first story was sent to be several years ago by a good friend. Some of you may have seen this but I never read it without being reminded of how the ability to be thankful is more a matter of perspective than things we possess. The title of this short story is Poor Folks.
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a poor family. On their return from their trip, the Father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
"It was great Dad."
"Did you see how poor people live?" the Father asked.
"Oh yeah," said the son.
"So, tell me what did you learn from the trip?" asked the Father.
The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
The boy's Father was speechless.
Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."
The second item I want to share is from a little book entitled The 77 Habits of Highly Ineffective Christians. It is written by Chris Fabry and provides an interesting perspective on 77 areas of Christian living and how to maintain a steadfast mediocrity. I think you will find the following thought-provoking.
Habit #13 - Be Thankless
In all my years of analyzing truly ineffective Christians, I have yet to find one who has been thankful for anything. This is a hallmark of spiritual inadequacy.
If you were to sit down right now and list the blessings in your life, no matter what circumstances you are in, you would no doubt need reams of paper and a stack of pencils. This is why I say never, ever sit down and list the blessings in your life. It can only lead to thankfulness, which you must spurn.
Do not be thankful for God's faithfulness. If you see a miraculous answer to prayer, quickly forget it. Do not record it or tell others about God's goodness.
Do not be thankful for current material blessings like a roof over your head and food on the table. Do not compare yourself with those in the world who do not have such blessings. Instead compare yourself with the few who have bigger dwellings with better furniture and more attic space.
Do not be thankful for your spiritual blessings. Do not be thankful for God's word, but whine that you would rather live in the Old Testament days when you could hear the audible voice of God.
If you are single, desire a spouse and do not be thankful for the freedom you have. If you are married, pine for singleness and do not be thankful for the provision God has given you.
Remember, it is much easier to keep the fire of thanklessness going when you stoke it with an attitude of ingratitude.
Action Point: Make a list of the things you're not thankful for today and share them with a friend.
Ineffective Hymn: Count Your Problems
When upon Life's pillows you are lying down,
When you are in comfort and without a frown,
Add up all the negatives you think you see,
And you'll be surprised at just how mad you'll be.
Count your problems, name them one by one.
Count your problems, scorn what God has done.
Count your many problems, make the list real long.
Count you many problems while you sing this song.
May God give us grace to have grateful hearts.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.