Despite the challenging times in which we find ourselves living, we have much to be thankful for …
As the Church gathers across the country to celebrate the Agricultural Year … and most especially the bringing in of the harvest … we should all be turning our thoughts towards saying: Thank you to God.
So … what shall we say Thank you for?
- Family and friends who surround us with love and care?
- The good health that makes is possible for us to enjoy life?
- The income that ensures our lifestyle?
- The food and drink which staves off hunger and thirst?
- Perhaps we might like to thank God for his Church which offers peace, comfort, consolation and strength?
There is so much for which we should say: Thank you, God!
Of course, there is a problem, isn’t there!
The list I have just rehearsed does sound rather smug and selfish … doesn’t it!?
It is easy to be thankful for that which exceeds our real needs … the 2 or 3 cars, the 4 televisions, the freezer full of food, our financial security …
When we say Thank you for all those good thing in our lives, how often do we remember those whose circumstances are the exact opposite of our own … and worse!?
When we thank God for family and friends, do we add a prayer for the lonely and neglected?
When we rejoice in good health, do we pray for the disabled, the chronically sick, and those near to death?
Surely we pray for the majority of the inhabitants of this planet whose abject poverty should cause us some pause for thought as we live in the midst of our wealth & riches!
And food … do we pray for the hungry every time we stare into our overflowing fridges and freezers … spoilt for choice!?
Of course, if we do remember to pray for those in need … there is still a problem …
The problem lies in the preposition: for!
As we offer thanks for all that is abundant and good in our lives, we are rather implying that we are also saying that we are grateful that we don’t have to live like those poor, hungry and homeless people … wherever and whoever they may be!!!
So … how should we offer our thanks to God?
It is the language of that question that should be our guide …
- we say Thank you for …
- we should be saying Thank you to …
Our use of the preposition for reveals a level of self-interest that flies in the face of Jesus’ words to us today.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Jesus also said:
… can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
We are so busy worrying about those things that our consumerist society tell us are important that we forget that there is something so much more important toward which we should be directing our attention.
At the end of our reading from Matthew’s gospel we heard this:
… strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When we put aside our concern and worry about those things that we think will make our lives better … and … instead, focus our whole being on what God wants for us … then, we will see the miracles begin to happen.
So … next time you catch yourself saying Thank you for all that is good in your life, remember all those who, despite their need and their poverty, say Thank you to God in prayer and praise … despite having so little to say thank you for!!!
And … as you begin to ponder on the riches you have been given by God, remember that you … in your wealth … have a responsibility towards those who have so much less in this world.
When we put God into our lives last … he doesn’t fit!
We haven’t left enough time and space for God.
But … when we put God in first …
he makes all the other pieces of the complex jigsaw that is our life, fit as well.
Let us pray …
Dear Lord Jesus,
help us to seek you first
and to trust you with our lives
today and every day. Amen.