I’ve been reflecting on what gives life meaning. I suppose it’s different for everyone, but I feel God showing me why we -as Christians- can be thankful at all times.
I’ve heard many use comparison to explain thankfulness. For example: “I don’t have much, but then I think of the kids in Africa and I realize how well-off I am.”
I believe God wants us to be thankful people, but comparison is not the way to achieve this. In the Bible, thankfulness is not an effect of envying his/her neighbors. Thankfulness was based on God’s provision for them, which was not put up against anyone else’s gifts.
When we get into the habit of thanking God based -in any way- on what our neighbor has, we fall into the trap of short-sightedness, EVEN if we land on the ‘blessed’ side of the comparison. We fail to see how God works uniquely in every person’s life. We limit God’s faithfulness and tell Him it has to resemble our neighbor’s blessings or we will not be grateful.
Sadly, by using comparison to explain thankfulness, we can all too easily use comparison to explain discontent. If my gratefulness comes from the thought that God is blessing me more than someone, are we also going to grieve that we don’t have as much as the movie stars and CEOs?
So, while being thankful for our blessings is valuable because we acknowledge God’s provision, I feel Him encouraging us to get out of the comparison game. Many times, we rank our status based on the status of others without thinking. We think we are poor because we have a car from the 90s. Meanwhile, in Haiti, having that car from the 90s may make you rich. Blessings, when defined by comparison, are subjective and completely reliant on the culture around us. I do not think God wants us to rely on culture or comparison to recognize our blessings. In fact, I see that as limiting ourselves in seeing God in our lives.
So, why should we be thankful?
We can be thankful for things that happen to be in culture- like our homes and cars and families. But let’s not be thankful because culture defines something as good. There is a difference. One way relies on culture and comparison to give worth and one way relies on God, and simply recognizes blessings that happen to be in culture.
Mostly, everything is meaningless in comparison to the grace and mercy we have received through Christ. His blessings in our lives are worth celebrating. He provides for us, mostly through his love for us, but also through food and homes and friends and family. We can celebrate those things, but I hope we can stop celebrating them because others have worse. Instead, I hope we can trust that God sees us and is providing for us, as He loves us greatly. Thank you, Jesus for what you have given to us.