And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 5:20 (NLT)
I am a firm believer in short-term mission trips. No, not the ones that look more like a vacation than an actual trip to help another group of people; but the trips that go to places with different cultures, lifestyles, and expectations than our own. Why? Because it provides perspective (in addition to the spiritual maturity it brings to serve others).
My first trip was to Ecuador. The area we served was very poor. The roads were not paved or maintained. The houses were mostly concrete shells with dirt floors. They had electricity and most had running water. Very few had a sewer connection. The furnishings for these homes were almost non-existent. There were maybe a few chairs and beds. It seemed no one had telephone service, owned a car, or made more than about $9 per week. And, this $9 per week had to stretch over multiple generations of family who all shared the same home.
All of this was a bit shocking to a suburban kid from the West Coast. But that’s not what stood out to me the most. Though they had very little, they were very thankful for what they had. In fact, one would say that they were joyful. They had life. They had family. They had a roof over their heads. They had a God who loved them. Though their lives weren’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, they didn’t let that stop them from being thankful to God.
We need to learn a lesson from the Ecuadorians. In today’s society we must have the latest gadget within the first week it comes out. We need the best high-tops, sneakers, or dress shoes. We need designer brand clothes, not the cheap stuff. We measure out TVs by the inch, rather than whether or not they work. In short, we are constantly wanting better.
The Apostle Paul put it this way over 1,900 years ago, “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, stop striving for better stuff and be thankful for the blessings God has already given to you.
So, let’s put this into practice. Today, and every day, give thanks to God for what He has given to you. Thank Him for the roof over your head, friends, family, and, most importantly, for His everlasting love. Let’s re-learn the lost art of thankfulness.