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Letters to the Missionary – thankfulness

This time of year is full of pumpkins. Pumpkin pies, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin scented candles; it all seems to rotate around pumpkins. When the leaves begin to change and apples, spices, and other things come crashing into our reality and are no longer in our imagination. It means a new season, consideration, and reflection for the times upon us.

pumpkinsThere is something to be said about thankfulness around this time of year. As the leaves fall it is seemingly an set time to contemplate this verb. Being from the United States, celebrating the holiday of thanksgiving is even a bigger deal for me. But with Christmas around the corner, thankfulness is on most people’s radars without the pomp and circumstance of tradition.

Is thankfulness just a season of life that we go through as the leaves fall and our senses are overwhelmed with spice? Is this the only time when we are inviting friends and family over for meals, coffees and teas? Not only is it the perfect temperature outside to begin to think of the numerous books that you are going to read curled up in your duvet over the next few months, but the constant flow of hot liquids to warm the flesh opens the door for invites and dates with friends as you plan your diary.

Thankfulness is an attitude: it’s a mind-set that we cultivate as we go about our daily grind. It’s not a season that we are suddenly thrown into as summer fades and autumn begins its course. It might be made more apparent during this time of gift giving and meal eating. That doesn’t change the reality of thankfulness as a meaning that it gives to life.

There are times that it is socially appropriate to be thankful: birthdays, Christmas, after a tragedy that spared a life, those times when we stop to count our blessings. These are all times that the world agrees are appropriate and expected to celebrate thankfulness.

The media often portrays the horrific stories of people in the Middle East whose whole lives are being destroyed. I am sure they wake up every morning and are thankful that they have survived another day. We look at that and just cannot comprehend that reality. We cannot understand the emotions that have to envelop a person who lives with that danger and destruction on their doorstep.

So without that happening to us, without those dangers overwhelming us and giving us a shake into the ‘normal life’ of an extremely thankful person who wakes up, grateful to be alive, how are we to be truly thankful? How are we to live our days honestly thanking the Lord who made us that we can once again take a walk in His creation and be alive to experience His gifts to us one more day?

IMG_4627I like to think that I am a grateful person. I don’t take a lot of things for granted and I don’t often assume that I will receive something. So when the opportunity arises for me to exercise thankfulness it’s usually genuine. Does that mean that I am everyday thankful for bread and water? Am I thankful that I have three kinds of crisps to choose from off the shelf in Tesco? Or do I want ten, because that’s the new normal?

As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If we know the will of God for our lives to be good, and if we know that He is good then this verse should be the basis of our Christian walk. And that’s in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. Even when our surroundings don’t fit and our reality doesn’t match our fantasies.

Living in first world nations I don’t think we often consider the consequences of not being thankful for the everyday necessities that we have. We can often take for granted our clothes, shoes, clean water, and food. This is a way will happen no matter what but our attitude and mind-set about these things doesn’t have to. That doesn’t give us the right however, to not practice and walk out in gratitude for what The Lord has given us and the gifts that He often just places in our hands.

During this season of festivities and fun, join with me in remembering not only to pray for those who won’t get to celebrate in any way this year, but as well to go into every day with the thankfulness that God and those around us deserve. There are people who have lost everything and everyone that are dear to them. Don’t take your life for granted. Be thankful.

Ivy Miller, YWAM Harpenden Staff

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