Be Thankful (Part 1)

by Ong Eng Boon

Life is difficult, sometimes hard and can be cruel at times. Life is not a bed of roses. As life goes on, many will find many things to complain about rather than to be thankful. We complain our body is not beautiful enough, about low salary, about the weather, about Mrs X being too talkative, about Mr Y being unfriendly, that life is not fair. We complain about what we don’t have and don’t give thanks for what we have.

What about Christians? Do Christians complain? That the church building is too far away, about the lack of love between brethren, about the preacher being too longwinded, that the bible class is too dry and boring. We complain when we go to other congregations and the brethren there seem unfriendly and cold. We can’t seem to find one thing that is agreeable at all.

If you take one step back and think, actually things are not as bad as you think. There are still many things which we can be thankful for. Even though our bodies are not as beautiful as we wish, at least we have a healthy body.

Even though our salaries are not what we hope for, at least we have a job to keep the family going. If it rains all day, at least it washes the haze away and when the rain stops, the air is refreshing. If the weather is hot and the temperature reaches 34-35o C, at least you can be sure the laundry gets dry. Some like it hot and some like it wet.

Even if Mrs X talks too much, it’s okay as long as she’s not gossiping as it may help her to kill some time. Even if Mr Y seems not too friendly, it is alright as he may be prone to inflicting pain on others with his sharp tongue. Life is not always fair but life goes on. As long as we earn an honest living, we’re fine.

Even if the church building is far away, we can still drive an air-conditioned car to get there. If there is a lack of love between brethren, we have to examine ourselves to see whether we are of any help and ask ourselves if we have played our part. Even though the preacher is long-winded but at the end, truth is being learned.

Even though bible class sometimes gets dry and boring, but just by your presence, you have encouraged others. And it is only for one hour, after that you have fellowship with one another.

In Acts 20:6-12 we learn from the scriptures that Paul was in Troas and it was the first day of the week when the disciples came together to worship. Paul spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

“And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” (Acts 20:9-10)

We must be thankful that we still can still worship and have fellowship in other places and that the work of the Lord is still being carried out by others even though they might be a bit cold.

What the world lacks today is a thankful heart. From the day we became Christians, have we expressed our gratitude to God? Because it is in Christ that we have all spiritual blessings. (Eph 1:3)

We have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance… having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation.” (Eph 1: 7, 11, 13)

Do we take all these for granted as we know that as Christians, God will bless us abundantly? And let’s not forget that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. (Jas .1:17)

Remember the account of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19? All were healed but only one came back to thank Jesus. What happened to the other nine? We need to ask ourselves in what manner do we have a thankful heart towards God? Do we ask more than we give thanks?

The bible emphasizes thankfulness:

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2)

“Giving thanks always for all things to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)

“In everything give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

“In everything give thanks.” This can be quite a difficult feat at times. Can we continue to give thanks even though bad things happen in our lives? Are we able to see the brighter side of the situation? Can we thank God in whatever circumstances we are in?

If we take turns to say things that we want to give thanks for, what would you say? Yet the bible says, “in everything give thanks.” There must be things that we can thank God for. This brings us to the most important part of self-examination: Are we as thankful as we should be to God?

The psalmist said : “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psa.103:2)

“Know that the Lord, He is God; it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise : be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (Psa.100:3-4)

Some of us are in the second half of our lives, the first half is gone. In this phase of life, responsibilities are getting heavier. As our kids go to varsity, expenses get higher. If our parents are still around, we care for their physical well being. If retirement is looming, we need to dig into our savings as life has to go on, though at a slower pace. I am already three-quarters into my lifetime, some of us may be already on extra time. Above all, are we thankful or do we still complain about life?

If you ask Jesus what is life all about, these are his answers:

  1. Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possess (Luke 12:15).
  2. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4).
  3. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about the body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Mt. 6:25)