The term thanks comes from an old English term meaning a thought of gratitude. The deeper meaning is to “point a finger to the source of the action.” In American English terms it is to say, “You did this, I recognize and appreciate it.” So the thinking behind being thankful is to zone in on who did what and to call it out.
There are times as well that we may not mentally recognize that a gift has been given to us. We are not thankful because we do not mentally recognize the blessing we have been given or we do not see it as worth a blessing. A 12 year old boy named David was born without an immune system. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in order to correct the deficiency. Up to that point he had spent his entire life in a plastic bubble in order to prevent exposure to common germs, bacteria, and viruses that could kill him. He lived without ever knowing human contact. When asked what he’d like to do if and when released from his protective bubble, he replied, “I want to walk barefoot on grass, and touch my mother’s hand.” (author unknown) There may be times we get into a mode of thinking selfishly, instead of thinking thankfully. It is easy to do. Instead of being grateful for what we do have, we get a little self-centered about what we do not have. This little boy, with all he had to gripe about, only wanted these two minor things. His thinking was of thankfulness.
In Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answers, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man in incredulous, but the rabbi insists. “Do as I say and come back in a week.”
A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before. “We cannot stand it,” he tells the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.” The rabbi then tells him, “Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week.” A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat — only the nine of us.” (George Mikes, How to be Decadent, Andre Deutsch, London.) Our thinking has everything to do with our thankfulness. Paul wrote that we are to be thankful in every circumstance (1 Thess. 5:18). In fact, he states that be thankful is a part of God’s will or each of us. He stated to the Philippians that their mindset should be of joy always in all circumstances (Phil. 4:13).
Here are a few things that being thankful helps us to do.
1. It is hard to be angry and resentful when our minds are on being thankful.
2. It helps us to look outside of ourselves and toward how blessed we are.
3. It helps us to be aware of God’s presence.
4. It causes us to notice our humanity; that we have been given from someone else.
5. It directs our thinking to appreciate that small blessings are blessings to be thankful for.
6. It directs us to change our mental approach about life.
What are you thankful for today? …take a minute and realize how long your list should be.
~~ Andrew Burns