When we discovered that the case of children’s DVDs was stolen from our car, gratitude was not my immediate response. Irritation and anger, maybe, but not gratitude. With a ten hour car ride looming in a couple of weeks, I knew how much smoother the trip would go if the boys had something to hold their attention other than the passing scenery.
I didn’t think my son noticed my response. But oh, how our kids notice every bad attitude or negative behavior we think we’re hiding from them, don’t they?
A couple of days later, my son wanted to watch one of the movies that was in said case. When he remembered we no longer owned that movie, he immediately began echoing what he’d heard, no doubt, from me.
“I can’t watch it because someone stole it. Someone stole our DVDs. And now we’ll never have them again.”
It was as though I was looking in a mirror. Here was my son making a dramatic dialogue over something that, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t matter one bit. But I wasn’t going to let this attitude progress. I grabbed hold of the situation and used it as an opportunity to teach my son.
“Yes, it was wrong of the person to steal the DVDs. But you know what? We can replace them. It may take some time, but we have the money to buy new ones eventually. The person who took them may not have had any money to buy their own. We should be thankful God gives us these things to enjoy.”
As my son thought about what I’d said, his attitude changed. He realized that not being able to watch The Incredibles at that exact moment was not the end of the world. There were other ways we could enjoy our time together. Other blessings to be enjoyed.
When we focus on our blessings, anger diffuses in a cascade of grace.
God’s word tells us not to merely be thankful in the happy, shiny, rainbow filled moments of life. He tells us to be thankful in all things.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Is this even possible? Is it possible, when the stress of life is overwhelming, to be thankful? When tragedy strikes? When things don’t go according to plan? Yes, but it does not come naturally. It is a discipline. We must choose to be thankful.
Why? Because this is God’s will for us. And when we really stop and think about it, how can we not? He has given us a life we didn’t deserve and paid a debt He didn’t owe, so that we can live in eternal communion with Him.
When I pause and reflect on what he’s done, I am more than grateful.
I am overwhelmed.
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