How to be Thankful for God's Gifts
A thankful life is a victory parade with Jesus.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t take God’s gifts for granted. Faithful, courageous people have given my life color and support. Men and women I admire have left a lasting stamp on me, and I try to be like them. When I see others take the trust of their friends or family for granted, it teaches me a different lesson: I don’t want to be like them. We can choose to be thankful, or careless, but we cannot choose the results of either attitude. An attitude of thankfulness gives you a chance to share your hope in Christ, while an attitude of entitlement does not.
I always thank the Lord for a godly wife and beautiful children. I believed I understood, and counted, my many blessings. But one fateful Monday evening in a large children’s hospital with my son, I learned a lasting lesson about thankfulness.
“Leave work now and come to the doctor’s office”
My wife called me at work to let me know a doctor visit led to an immediate call for an ambulance. Medical tests showed our 2-year-old son's lungs were not getting enough oxygen. His labored breathing caused the doctor to make the call, and I had only minutes to leave work and follow them to the hospital. Since my wife was in the ambulance with my son, I didn’t even have the whole story. All I could do was follow—and pray, thinking of God’s soothing words like “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
At the Hospital
Our son’s breathing was a little noisy. It seemed almost normal to us, but his blood oxygen level was too low. Hospital staff couldn’t take any chances. They ran more medical exams. All night we took turns sitting beside his crib, crying out to the One Who “…gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:25) To our sorrow, we learned that a little girl in the next room had begun to lose all muscular function, and it would be a miracle if she survived the night. They had no explanation for her condition. She was born the exact same day as our son.
“I’ve Seen Too Many Miracles to Doubt God’s Existence”
As we took a look around the hospital, we saw many other cribs, just like the one our son slept in. There were small instruments. There were even bedrooms in the back for parents to spend the night. We realized, for many of them, it would be the last night with their dear children. Yet the hospital staff were cheerful. How was this possible? When we asked a nurse if we could pray for her, we learned her secret. She had learned to trust God: “Miracles do happen at this place regularly,” she said. She had seen many sad stories, but she was able to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) We don’t have to give thanks for bad news: I take it that the Apostle Paul didn’t thank God for his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) He called it “a messenger of satan”! But he gave thanks that it clearly showed Christ’s power. If we can trust God’s goodness and look for His work even in difficult times, we can always find something to make us thankful.
By the early morning hours, the doctors decided that our son was going to be fine. (Months later, another doctor would discover our son has asthma.) I spent an hour in thankful prayer for the doctors and nurses working there. I prayed for the other patients. But most of all, I thanked God for things I’d never thought to give Him thanks about: my son’s healthy little body, from his head to his toes. If you have a healthy family, you are blessed; count the blessings you usually take for granted. The Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy was, “godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Pray this week:
God, thank you for your gifts I’ve taken for granted. Make me aware of all of them and help me see you even when things are hard.
Hope is called an “anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Do you have this kind of hope to share with others?