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It’s the holiday season….
Christmas dinner? What’s your favorite dish? Who makes it? We all have one. I personally, over the years growing up in the south have enjoyed the Cajun fried turkey. But my Aunt Jeanine’s sweet potato with brown sugar pecan encrusted topping — oh, it’s an entree that is like a dessert. Both of those I cross my fingers for seconds…
Well, not to be a “Debbie downer” here, but not everyone is going to bed this Christmas with their favorite Christmas dish, or even much food at all. While our children, and maybe ourselves aren’t 100% satisfied with what we are getting for Christmas, many – 795 million in fact – in the world don’t have enough food regularly to lead an active healthy life. Another couple million, more than a billion in all, will go hungry tonight. Most developing countries, 13+% are under nourished.
Well, now that we’re all happy and feeling good about ourselves — you’re asking, “Josh, it’s Christmas! Why are you making me feel depressed?” — Well, that’s not the goal. What we’re discussing today is the topic of gratitude.
Where do you find gratefulness? Do you have it at all?
I was only 18 at the time, just out of high school — a college freshmen, and I had the opportunity over spring break to travel to Honduras for a missions trip. Yep, while most of my classmates were headed to the warm beaches for partying, I got the opportunity to head to the warm mountains, with no running water or electricity, and spend a few days with people that I only knew un poquito of their language. Doing medical missions, working with translators, we met beautiful people, who had next to our standards almost nothing. What they did have was more gratitude and humbleness than any of us could imagine. Up there, I saw kids 8 and 10 year olds, playing in a cardboard box, pulling each other around — kids that had taken old plastic bags, wrapped it in duct tape to fashion a ball, schooling us in soccer — all having the time of their lives. Our kids would have been “sooo boooorred…”
Learning to find gratefulness…
Yep. I said “learn” to find it. Gratefulness is taught. If you are expecting everything to come to you, you’re missing the point of things being a blessing in your life. Here are 4 places we can gain more gratefulness in our lives:
- In God.
“Give thanks to the lord, our God and King. His love endures forever.” He doesn’t leave us nor forsake us. He is unchanging. Give your heart to him and allow him to change you from the inside out.
- In family.
It’s the holidays and it’s a great time to reconvene with those with don’t always get along with. Bitterness ruins the soul from the inside out. Whether with a spouse or extended family member, make time to come together. When we do this, God is glorified.
- With friends.
By this, we are talking about finding accountability without everyday lives. Walking this life out with others is what God had in mind from the beginning. Let’s “not forsake the gathering together,” but to be successful, others around us are essential.
- With those you don’t know.
This is something that even as believers we don’t do enough, especially beyond the holidays. Now who are we talking about? It’s not just doing an outreach to the homeless, donating to orphanages or going on a missions trip… Yes, great things to do, but there is more. There are elderly that we can go and as a team ask what can we do to help them — getting them food, taking out their trash, trimming the grass or hedges…. Another is finding a foster family and asking them the same things: food, mowing their grass, bringing them clothes or toys…. Ask your pastors what you can do around the church, or if there are families they know of that are having a difficult time and help them pay a bill… Tons of ways!…
- BONUS: Find someone you are not getting along with…
… and write them an encouraging letter — with real paper and ink in your own words with no pre-written hallmark phrases, and begin praying for them regularly while asking God to change your heart about them.
What are other areas you can work on being grateful?
Maybe just in your attitude this Thanksgiving and Christmas? Allow it to permeate your attitude the rest of the year… But to do that, it will have to be you allowing God to lead you and renew your mind daily to the character and mind of Christ.