[Part 5, Chapter 30]
When in Uganda in 2005, I visited a number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps where thousands of people were living in fear of Joseph Kony and his army.
Those I met in the camps were grateful for even the smallest things. One man had a crude plastic tarpaulin over his 2 x 2 metre space, the words UNESCO stamped on top. With a toothless grin from ear to ear, he declared to me, “I am so thankful to UNESCO for this cover. It keeps the sun off in the heat and the rain out in the wet. It is a real blessing. I am so thankful!”
Back home some months later, I was making the bed and caught one of the sheets in a bedside lamp. In anger, I complained about the smallness of our bedroom.
Immediately, this man from the IDP camp came to mind—a man in a shelter with no bed, ceiling fan, bedside table, lamp, ensuite, wardrobe, or power points. Holy Spirit convicted me of selfishness and led me into a time of thanksgiving—thanking the Father for all the things I take for granted, thanking him for all the things I complain about, thanking him for all the things I presume are a right rather than a privilege, thanking him for all the things I’d never thanked him for before.
Mary and Zachariah gave thanks.
Favour leads to thanksgiving.
How are you in the area of gratitude and thanksgiving? Deep down, most of us are not ungrateful people.
However, our choices, the pressing nature of life, our busyness, the expectations of others, and a life without margins all contribute to us leading a life without thanksgiving at the centre. As a saying goes, ‘full bellies, empty memories’.
For most of us, thanksgiving is forgotten when life is cruising. We compare ourselves with the 5% of the global population who have more than us, rather than the 95% who have less.
Thanksgiving has the power to lift us out of our introspection on what we don’t have, liberating us through a celebration of what we do have.
Favour leads to thanksgiving, and thanksgiving sustains our life of favour.
You can develop a heart of thanksgiving. It can be cultivated.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grow in you a sweet heart of thanksgiving.
- Make thanksgiving a daily practice – whenever you notice something you haven’t thought of for a while, give thanks for it.
- Give thanks for the small things you tend to take for granted. For example, I can be thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
- Give thanks for ten. When I’m feeling grumpy or hard done by, or I don’t feel like praying, I start by giving thanks to the Father for ten things around me.
Cultivate thanksgiving, and you will grow in favour.