I grew up in a small town outside of Phoenix, Arizona.
We lived in a modest home. My dad worked hard to put food on the table. My mom stayed home to raise my three brothers and me.
We had everything we needed, but I couldn’t help but notice that other kids in town had more.
Our town was unique. When we moved in, it was a small, affordable community. But it soon evolved into a wealthy town known for million-dollar houses with million-dollar views.
So I was the average kid living in the average house, but I had friends with mansions.
I wore hand-me-down shoes from my older brother. They had new Nike’s.
When I turned sixteen, I got to drive the old minivan with blown speakers and a sliding side door that would fall off if you opened it too far.
They turned sixteen and got a BMW.
I’ve got to admit; there were many times when I was ungrateful. I wanted more.
Gratitude is All About Perspective
Compared to others in my town, I was poor.
I wanted what they had, but I was losing the comparison game.
I’ll never forget the day my perspective changed.
In my junior year of high school, I signed up for a missions trip to build houses for the poor in Mexico.
I met a family of six living in a junkyard. They slept on a dirt floor in a rickety shed made of salvaged plywood and cardboard.
We built them a two-room, stucco hut, smaller than most Americans’ bedrooms. But the new house was slightly bigger, better insulated, had a concrete floor, a door, and two windows.
I’ll never forget their smiles mixed with tears of joy. They were unbelievably grateful for their new home.
Compared to their shed, we had built them a palace.
Still living in a junkyard without electricity, plumbing, or any of the modern conveniences we take for granted, they were oddly happy.
Suddenly, my middle-class American life didn’t look so bad.
I was a spoiled, rich kid too.
Infinite Reasons to Be Thankful
Contentment is a mindset. If you aren’t grateful, you need a perspective change.
And Christians ought to be the most grateful people on earth!
If we believe our Bibles, we know that we are deplorable sinners deserving only death and condemnation.
But God, in his infinite love, sent his only son to die in our place for our sins so that we can be children and heirs of his kingdom.
That’s good news!
If we had nothing but Christ, that should be enough. But our awesome God gives us far more than that.
All the Small Things
It may sound cliché, but have you ever stopped to thank God for the small things?
For example, we routinely thank God for our food before a meal. But have you ever thought smaller and thanked God for taste buds?
Taste is a gift from God.
I mean, he could have made us all like dogs who eat their vomit. But God has given us the gift to savor a bacon cheeseburger, a fresh pineapple, or a warm chocolate chip cookie dipped in cold milk.
This is only one example of the infinite number of small things we can praise God for.
- Cellular mitosis
- Opposable thumbs
- The laughter of a child
All the good things we enjoy—even if we don’t think about them—were created by God for our joy so that we would have countless reasons to give him thanks.
What’s Your Excuse?
I don’t care what your situation is; there’s no excuse bigger than God’s goodness.
That’s why the Bible repeatedly shouts:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good (Psalm 136:1)
Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
You’ve been given more than you need or deserve.
God gives us heaven when we deserve hell!
Sure, if you compare your life to somebody who has more, you’ll be tempted to be ungrateful. You’ll look at that one stupid thing that you think will make you happy, and forget the ten trillion gifts God has already given you.
But when we comprehend how rich God has already blessed us, though we don’t deserve a shred of it, our perspective shifts.
We have infinite reasons to be grateful.
So, here’s my question for you: What are you allowing to steal your gratitude?
If you follow Jesus, you’ve got everything you need and more.