God insists that his children learn to be thankful

My parents believed in giving thanks. Yes, they believed in giving thanks primarily to God for the blessings he showers upon us. But Mom & Dad also believed in giving thanks to the people around us.

My mother, normally a most loving woman, was an absolute tyrant regarding “thank you” notes. From the moment we were old enough to scratch out a note, if we received any kind of gift from friends or family, she’d glue a writing instrument to our hands, staple our posteriors into a chair, and crack the whip as we wrote the required heartfelt note of thanks.

And Dad? Well, what started me thinking about all this was an essay one of my brothers recently wrote, remarking on the incredible amount of correspondence that my dad sent out each week. As the founder of a Bible school for preachers and church leaders, Dad depended upon contributors to keep the school funded, and, added to the mound of pastoral letters he sent out to minister to friends and extended flock far and wide, were stacks of those “thank you’s” for support. I wonder how many Underwood typewriters Dad rode right into the ground!

My mother and father taught me that there is a time for gratitude. That time is all the time. And they taught me the biblical truth that a grateful heart is the antidote for all manner of diseases of the soul.

I admit that I’ve not always followed their lead. Far too often, I’ve allowed “grinchy-ness” to crowd out gratitude, but Mom & Dad made sure that when I fall to that temptation I’m rarely able to feel good about it for very long.

Funny. Even before I read my brother’s essay, I’d already been thinking specifically about how gratitude seems to be the key to living the life God wants for us. In my own private devotions . . .

Stop! Don’t get the idea that I’ve got anything at all to be proud of regarding such devotions. I do them sporadically at best and usually poorly, I’m sure. So that’s my confession.

Okay. In my own private devotions, I often use the now-centuries-old (first published in 1549) and, to me, richly beautiful, Book of Common Prayer and its “order” for daily devotions and systematic readings and prayers from Scripture. On one recent morning, a morning which followed an evening in which I was grinchier than usual, I noticed how many of the words and Scriptures in the “morning rite” point to gratitude.

“O give thanks to Lord!” worshipers are urged in a variety of words in almost every paragraph and with multiple psalms and other Scriptures.

My circumstances, feelings, mood, and digestion may change often. But it’s good to be reminded each new day that God does not change—nor does my deep need to give thanks to him.

It seems that I’ve got another Father who is also serious about me learning to be a genuinely thankful person—whether I like it or not.