Imagine giving your children a beautifully wrapped package. They eagerly tear off the wrapping to find the treasures inside. What do they find? Simple cards with these words: A breath, A heartbeat, Air, Sunshine, Rain, A glass of water, A piece of bread…What might their reaction be? Would a smile come to their faces? Confusion? Disappointment? Complaints? Yet each of the cards should be a humble and joyful reminder of the daily, and even moment-by-moment, generous and gracious provision of God.
…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.—Acts 17:25b
The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.—Psalm 145:9
Every person’s response should be,
…I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.—Psalm 9:1
But how often do we actually “give thanks to the LORD”? How often do our children hear it from our lips? Will they grow up to be men and women who give heartfelt thanks to God?
We live in a culture where there is a spirit of entitlement—where we think we deserve all of these great things. If something doesn’t go our way, we feel like we’ve been robbed and deprived. And even when a person gets what they think they’re already entitled to, they’re not grateful for it. After all, “I deserved it!”
In contrast, Puritan pastor Richard Baxter wrote, “Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can...Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.”
Baxter is right—expressing gratitude makes a grateful heart. Children who learn to say thanks become more thankful. Gratitude is a wonderful perspective-shaping habit. (“Combating the Spirit of Entitlement with Gratitude,” www.epm.org)
We cannot transform our children’s hearts to makethem truly thankful. Even more so, we cannot bring about the redeeming work necessary to make them thankful children of God, in Christ. But we can train and guide them toward this goal. Here are a few things parents can do:
By God’s grace, may we raise a generation of children who shine as a light in an ungrateful world! May they boldly, continually, and joyfully shout thanksgiving to God, through whom all blessings flow!