I am Thankful, I think?

  • Randy Karlberg
Man praying with his Bible

It amazes me how there are times when you can get away with certain sayings or ways of thinking where at other times it is met with cynical rebuttals.  This time of the year it is fully acceptable to offer thanks for what you have or for persons in your life.  Other times of the year these statements have the very real possibility of being rebuffed with a comment such as, “If you were really thankful, you would give to others who don’t have.”  Or maybe, “If you were thankful for me, you would do more for me.”  And to a certain extent I agree with these statements.  If we are thankful, it should show up in our conduct and speech.  But the idea that some of us are judges as to who is really thankful and who is only putting on a show to make themselves feel better is a bit prideful.  There is only one judge with whom we should be concerned. So how do we know if we are thankful or not?  Well there are a couple of indicators that will give us insight into our own hearts.  

One way to know what you value or are thankful for is what you spend your time and money on.  These are two indicators that point to what we value.  We may be tempted with thoughts of I work so much so my family can have the things to make their lives comfortable.  The question to ask ourselves is, “Wouldn’t our family rather have a deep relationship with us rather than things?”  Of course, there is balance needed in these areas.  But truly pondering the reality of what we value is profitable.  There is also a saying, “Quality time not quantity time.”  We understand what is being proposed here.  But I would argue that there is nothing that takes the place of day by day time with those we love!  As I look back at my growing up I am forever grateful for my Dad taking regular time in his busy schedule each week to spend focused time with me!  He showed me that I was more important than his work as a pastor by regularly investing time with me one on one.  Much of it was not really a special outing but just time together.  Investing in time together does produce a sweet profit.  Sometimes it takes a bit for that profit to be realized.  But you will never be sorry for that time! 

A second way you know if you are thankful is that you express it often!  It comes out of you without even thinking about it.  Of course, this comes more easily for some rather than others. But nonetheless we need to be people who are genuinely thankful.  One of the most obvious places to see if we are thankful is when we pray.  We are told in Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”  We are to be rock solid in our prayers looking for and recognizing with thankfulness!  This focus on the Lord and how He is at work in our lives must be a mainstay of our daily life.  Thankfulness should not be a one off but a regular reality!  

Thirty-five years ago, I stood in front of over 500 people and quoted Psalm 100 in unison with my Dad.  No one really remembers that but me.  All of the people gathered together on that day really only remember my wife Lana, who was dressed in all white!  And I don’t blame them.  I still remember seeing her radiating her beauty for all to see!  It’s just a good thing she had not been escorted into the ceremony until after we quoted Psalm 100.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to remember the words!  Anyway, in this Psalm we are instructed to have a right view of ourselves and that is to be humble sheep dependent on the Shepherd who is indeed good!  

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!  Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into His presence with singing!  Know that the Lord, He is God!  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; Bless His Name!  For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”  This is a mandate as to how we are to live with the Lord.  We are called to be His servants!  We are to come before Him regularly with Thanksgiving!  How many times in your prayer life do you skip over the thankfulness to the Lord and just head right into the list of requests?  When we do this, what we are really doing is saying that we are really what’s important.  When I think of my Heavenly Father and the actuality that I consider myself as more important than Him, I truly am ashamed.  We must ask the Lord to show us how we really are and to ask His forgiveness for our selfish ways! 

So as I finish writing I am asking myself, what better time to do a self-check on a heart of gratitude than at Thanksgiving time?  Lord please help me to love you and to express thankfulness for who you are.