Sometimes, every now and then, I spot themes in the blogs I read that connect with events in my life. It seems a small providence as God raises an issue above the blog line for me to spot, listen and respond to. It’s an opportunity not just to be interested but to genuinely learn from.

The highlighted theme of the moment is thankfulness. First I read this story and then I came across this article about struggling with thankfulness in ministry and this comment struck home,

“I think the problem is that I’m not truly thankful when God provides. I may be happy that I got the job I wanted, pleased that I made it into the right program, or relieved that we’ve paid all our bills on time again. But I don’t think I’m thankful for those things, because deep down I believe I pulled them off on my own. There’s no sense being thankful for something you do yourself.”

After that I came across this about being thankful for technology and not ‘break[ing] into fits of rage when we have to wait 2 seconds for page-loads’ and remembering that,

“It’s important that we not put ourselves in the middle of the iUniverse—even though our phones are called iPhone. It’s not about us. It’s about God and His work that he’s doing through Jesus and His church.”

Then I read this post titled, ‘when I read this I never want to complain again’ that opened with,

“Every so often, the sufferings of a fellow human being break through the consumer haze and teach us how to value life in a way that isn’t twee or glib.”

Which reminded me about PJ Smyth, a church leader and young(ish) father of three who has just been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands) who writes,

“A fair few tears flow daily in the Smyth home at the moment, especially Ashleigh’s and mine. They can break out at almost anytime prompted by gratitude to the kindness and close presence of Jesus, or thankfulness to the kind words and actions of friends, or at news of the suffering of others that is already seeming to break our hearts in a fresh way, or because of tiredness and fear of the unknown.”

The message is clear, be thankful, be thankful, be thankful. Just after I graduated from teacher training a friend and I travelled round Europe by train one summer. One of the habits we cultivated on the many train journeys was to ‘count our blessings’. It’s a good habit.

Tomorrow my beautiful son turns two and he is a real joy to me. I’m grateful to him though he doesn’t know it and more grateful to Emma for the amazing job she does in raising him, but I’m yet more grateful still to God for both of them. Any day now, I hope to be equally grateful for a second child.

Despite all the challenges, I love the church I lead and being a part of the mission we’re on. Just today 93 people (at least half were guests) shared food, fun and a short service thinking about hope together. Thank you. Today a couple took a step of courageous faith and sacrifice that, I’m sure, will prove to be a blessing to our church. Thank you.

I’m grateful for a thousand other things. Thankfulness should be a mark of the Christian, no place for moaning, grumbling and complaining for the people of God, instead we overflow with thankfulness in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18), always giving thanks to God (2 Tim 1:3) because of who God is (Rev 11:17) and for what He has given us (Jesus) is an inexpressible gift (2 Cor 9:15) that frees us from sin (Rom 6:17-18) which is why when we have given thanks we break the bread that remembers what Christ has done for us (Luke 22:19).

Be thankful, be thankful, be thankful.

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