“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Many of us consider ourselves to be grateful, but are we really?
While I do stop to give thanks for everything the Lord has given me, there are also times when I find myself desiring more and becoming increasingly dissatisfied.
God’s word is filled with reminders to seek contentment and gratitude and yet it remains a struggle.
There are times in our lives when it is easy to be thankful.
When I hear that my children are having a good day or that they did well on a test, I’m thankful.
When something good happens to me, I’m thankful for the blessings.
When I have the occasion to visit family and friends I haven’t seen for a long time, I’m thankful for the people in my life that are near and dear to my heart.
But, if I’m not careful, I can also find myself resenting the times when things aren’t going so well. I can easily slip into a sense of entitlement – after all, I’m a good person and I should have a good life, shouldn’t I?
Sometimes a reality check helps to put a healthy perspective on my natural tendency towards selfishness and entitlement.
Reflecting on my good fortune
My work at Asian Aid – while filled with joy and great blessings – also offers plenty of opportunities for sober reflection.
The statistics alone are enough to give me a reason to pause. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states that:
- Around 387 million children live in extreme poverty which is defined as an income of less than $1.90 per day. Extreme poverty disproportionately affects children – 19.5% of the world’s children compared to just 9.2% of adults.
- In the world’s poorest countries, around 1 in 4 children are engaged in child labour
- About 6 million children die before their fifth birthday each year, half due to undernutrition
- There are currently 21 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced from their homes – 10 million of whom are children.
In light of these facts, I can immediately think of a swathe of things for which I can be grateful every day.
- A roof over my head. Few things feel better than to reflect upon than having a warm home and a roof over my head when it is cold and windy outside and I can hear the rain beating hard on my window.
- I don’t have to go hungry. Food is in the pantry or just down the road at the supermarket.
- Access to the internet. When I was really young back in the 80’s and 90’s and you wanted to learn about something then you had to ask someone who may have had spotty knowledge. Or you had to visit the local library and maybe there was a book or magazine about it.
- My friends and family. For the love, support, kindness and all the fun that they offer and I get to offer them.
- My health. I do not have the indestructible body of Superman. But if I treat it well and get plenty of sleep, work out and eat healthily then it works really wonderfully well almost all the time.
- Resilience. The setbacks that have formed me and made me stronger. I have had many challenges and setbacks in my life and these experiences have made me stronger.
- Faith and purpose. I am so glad there is a God who created me. I am not just an accident or an insignificant individual. I am part of a bigger plan, I am here now and I have this time to experience, share, to give and live my life to its fullest.
I have learnt that being thankful and expressing gratitude is fundamental to my happiness.
Obviously, we all have to work at being thankful and incorporating thankfulness focus in our daily lives.
But I have learnt that being thankful is a choice I can make each day, each moment.
Author: Wayne Ulrich
Wayne Ulrich was born in Australia and has lived and worked in numerous countries. Over the past 30 years, he has travelled extensively and been assigned to many high risk, disaster affected and conflict-prone countries around the world.