Reasons to be thankful? – part 1!

Despite an early morning frost, it has been a beautiful day weather wise in Leiden. Perhaps it can seem so much easier to be grateful for things when the Sun is shining and there are blue skies.

Yet think on these words, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, New International Version). Sometimes, if we are being honest, we find it hard to do that, don’t we? Well, I know I do at times.

Though note the version used here – give thanks IN not give thanks due to all circumstances. Tough things happen and it is not that we have deny such reality. May be if you are in such a place, it is good to talk with someone about it?

(If you believe in praying, let’s take some time to pray for all those impacted by the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas)

There is so much that can be written about thankfulness. A few more thoughts for now. Take a look at this photo:

In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel we read of an occasion when a big crowd gathered to listen to Jesus. The account records that there were 5000 men. So allowing for there being women and children possibly present too, perhaps there were around 15000 or more? That is a lot of mouths to feed!

When Jesus asked one of his disciples Philip, about feeding everyone, Philip replied that it would take half a year’s wages to just give everyone a bite!

Philip was overwhelmed by the situation and what he and the others seemingly did not have. Feeding the crowd – impossible in their minds.

The text says that Jesus was testing Philip and ‘already had in mind what he was going to do’.

A boy had some food on him- five small loaves and two fish (okay, I know with reference to the photo above, the fish in the story were not in tins from the supermarket!!) The boy offered these up. It says that Jesus took these and gave thanks and after that the miracle happened of everyone being fed (and twelve baskets of leftovers being collected too!)

Now you may be reading this and have a hard time believing in miracles. I get that will be the position of some reading this. Or you might simply be saying I wish my food would stretch that far – it would reduce my shopping bill!

Whatever your reaction, read on…

Jesus took the seemingly insignificant that the boy had and it was used for great significance! I am also sure the boy had a story to tell for years to come!

How easy it is to look in our lives and focus on what we don’t have. Or to consider what we have or who we are as being almost worthless sometimes. Like the large crowd needing to be fed, our circumstances can seem overwhelming or impossible. Where is our trust in such times?

We can be so caught up with what we supposedly lack, that we miss being grateful for all we do have. This also then can block our lives from being a benefit to others. We can become paralysed by “if only I had…” (you can fill in the rest of the sentence).

So I finish with some questions –

  • How can we build gratitude into our lives more regularly?
  • What can you thank God for today?
  • Who could you express gratitude towards in coming days?
  • Like the boy in the story giving his food, what could you do in order to be generous towards someone else?
  • In our work places, study courses, neighbourhoods, families  – how can we help create a greater atmosphere of gratitude and generosity?

Thanks for reading!

Andy