As I was walking my dog this afternoon a Dutch children’s song came to my mind. I just couldn’t stop singing it. The song is about a helicopter. It is a request to the helicopter if you could please fly along with him because all you want is to be up in the sky. On and on I kept singing this song until it really drove me crazy. But when I really looked at the lyrics, I started thinking. In life we are all exactly like this song. All we want in life is to fly higher and higher. The highest place isn’t high enough. We want to be more successful. We want a bigger house. We want more money. We want more recognition. We want more friends. We want more fun. We want more adventure and so on. It is never really enough. When are we finally going to be grateful for what we have?
Think about it! Are you really grateful? Or are there things that would make your life just a little bit better? If I may answer this question for myself, I am not grateful enough! For the past month I have been complaining to God about my life. When God the Father audibly told me that He loved me, all I could think of was the things that aren’t going well in my life. Things that I hadn’t accomplished yet. Things that were still missing in my life. In reality I didn’t really listen.
Even when Jesus said, again audible, that He loved me, I started complaining about the fact that I haven’t gotten my book published yet. As if the publication of my book is more important than Jesus’s love for me. Of course, looking back, I can hit my head into a brick wall with piles of shame piled up on my shoulders but that is not going to help me now! Jesus taught me once, “An apology is merely a collection of words, only a change of heart can redeem the soul”. So I know that, especially with Jesus, an apology doesn’t really work. What Jesus rather sees is that I change my actions into the right ones. However that isn’t easy!
It is so difficult to not want more. In our own minds we simply need it. We need a roof over our head, food on the table, clothes to wear and, preferably, a stress-free life. And how we get it appears to be as important as what we get. We don’t settle for less. It has to be new. It has to be big, it has to be enough to our own standards. And in a way we do need all these things. We do! But God already knows that. God knows our needs long before we do! The point is that sometimes we just aren’t grateful enough. Instead of enjoying the moment, we are looking for our next problem. We keep searching for requests that we can lay down before God’s throne until we start making them up. But when are we going to stop and say, “Thank you”. When do we stop our lives and realize what we already have? When are we going to let the helicopter go without us because we have enough already?
A few years ago I made a rule for myself. During prayer I would thank God for at least one thing. In the evening for example, I would go through my day and thank God for as many things I could come up with. As time went by it became easier and easier to come up with things. In moments of difficulty it is extremely helpful. It allowed me to consciously think about that what God has given me. It made me see that God gives me more than I am often aware off. Maybe it can help you to? Another thing you could do to become more grateful is writing a prayer journal. You write down each prayer that you pray. Looking back on the prayers you can see what God has done for you. And so there are many more ideas to be more grateful.
Once a year we celebrate thanksgiving. It is a different date in most countries in the world. And each country celebrates it differently. In the United States for example it is highly celebrated with family diners. It is a public holiday that everyone celebrates. In Holland however, it is only celebrated in churches. Only Christians have a thanksgiving day. We don’t get a day off to celebrate and we have a church services in the evening. And I am pretty sure that some other countries don’t even have a thanksgiving day! But do we need a thanksgiving day? Do we need one day a year to be grateful? Maybe we do. However I think it is very important to be grateful every single day of your life.
Stop looking at what you don’t have and start realizing what God did give you. A little bit more positivity can brighten your soul more than you are aware of.
For me it remains a work in progress. When I feel down and alone it is a lot harder for me to be thankful for what I have. Those are the moments when I complain to God and I get frustrated with myself and my life. In those moments I will have to remind myself to look at what I do have, even if it is only one thing that I can come up with. Because I still believe that God is good and that He knows our needs! Besides, Philippians 4 verse 19 tells us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” He is with us, taking care of us every day, to the very end of the age! And that alone is something to be grateful for!
A psalm for giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.