What does it mean to be thankful? It’s a word that we throw around a lot, especially during this time of year. But what does it actually mean?
Is someone thankful simply because they have an abundance of things to enjoy and they are happy about it? Is someone thankful simply because they have great relationships with family and friends that enrich their lives? Are we thankful only because of these things?
Would we be thankful if they were all removed? What would it mean to be thankful if we lived in need all the time or if we lived in loneliness or fear? Would we, could we be thankful then?
Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not wishing to have everything good and valuable removed in my life to see if I would still be thankful and I don’t want that for anyone else. I am simply trying to figure out want thankfulness really is apart from everything I have been blessed with as a healthy, middle-class married with two kids in a reasonably healthy, loving and functional family, American. (That’s a lot of adjectives!)
What does God really want to teach me/us about being thankful?
I am firmly convinced that the good news of Psalm 34:8 to be true it must be equally true for me in Houston, TX USA as it is for someone in Nairobi, Kenya or San Salvador, El Salvador or Calcutta, India or Manila, Philippines, etc. If that verse is truly good news for me it must be good news for Christians there as well. So, somehow, being thankful as a Christian has to be much deeper than the temporal things we value. It must be much deeper and broader than that because I hear stories of Christians in those places and others who are truly thankful amidst desperate poverty or persecution or disease or all of the above.
Which brings me back to my original question: What does it mean to be thankful?
I don’t have complete answers. Unfortunately, I only have more thoughts and more questions. But I believe God is at work, teaching me what it really means to be thankful. I think things might be different in my life as a result.
As you reflect on what it means to be thankful, what has God taught you? What is He teaching you now? How are things different as a result?