Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving: Thankful Compared to What?

Gratitude is all about comparisons.  Our level of thanksgiving is determined by that which we choose to compare our lives to.

I was so grateful, so perfectly content with my Blackberry for years.  In fact, MORE than content, I was happy, I was PROUD of my Blackberry.  Why?  Because I was comparing it with what I was not able to do with my old phone and handheld portable device.  My gratitude came from choosing to compare what I had with what I formerly did not have.  I was living a thankful phone life.

Until last May when my oldest son, Andrew, was in town shortly after exchanging his Blackberry for an iPhone and started this:
“Dad, let me show you how to get directions real quick… Oh, I forgot you have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone.  You really need to exchange that dinosaur.” 
“Dad, let me give you some pictures… Oh, I forgot you have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone.  You really need to exchange that dinosaur.”
“Dad, here’s a free app that will make your life so much easier… Oh, I forgot you have a Blackberry instead of an iPhone.  You really need to exchange that dinosaur.”

Then I visited my younger son in Seattle recently, who recently exchanged his phone for an iPhone.  We would both start to look something up and while my phone is still searching he is showing me the results.  He had an app for the bus routes of Seattle that got us around our sightseeing tour safely - you guessed it - that is not even AVAILABLE to my Blackberry.  Chadd is gentler than Andrew but still made it clear that I am still pre-historic, “Dad, you really need to exchange that thing for an iPhone.” (Children can be so, um, what would you say, sarcastic.)

All because of my sons, I’m no longer grateful for my Blackberry.  I am now comparing it with all the things I cannot do instead of all that I can do.  In a few short months I’ve gone from happiness to counting the days until my contract is up; from contentment to frustration; from pride to embarrassment.

Do you live a life of gratitude?  Depends on what you are comparing yourself to.  Phones are trivial but life is quite important.  Thanksgiving holiday invites us to give thanks; God ratchets it way up when He COMMANDS us to be thankful ALWAYS.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, regardless of what we have or don’t have.  For Christ followers, this is not an option.  So how?  By changing our point of comparison, moving it from what we don’t have to how much we have; from comparing it with what others have to how much we have compared to the rest of the world.  A family of 4 living at the poverty level in the US is in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.  If your income is $40,000 you are in the top 3% of the world.  And if you make $50,000 you are in the TOP ONE PERCENT.  Of all people, we in this country have so very much to be thankful for. (

Let’s go one step further.  The best point of comparison that leads to deep gratitude is this: What do we deserve?  When we believe we deserve more than we have; when we believe it is our right to have the newest, latest, best, biggest we will always be unhappy.  What does God say we deserve?  Nothing.  No, that’s not quite right.  God actually tells us all we deserve is death and Hell.  When I fully embrace that, EVERYTHING I have is a bonus - and I will be extremely grateful.

When you sit at your Thanksgiving dinner table, to what will you compare yourself?  Your level of thanksgiving will be determined by that choice.  When I take a good look at Hell, I am extremely grateful for my wimpy Blackberry.

Boldly, Herb

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