We are commanded to give thanks repeatedly in Scripture. Usually, there is more to that command…give thanks in all things, give thanks continually, in everything give thanks. Thankfulness, in fact, should be a distinctive mark of a believer in Christ. Billy Graham wrote, “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.”
Confession time…I am great about being thankful in the good times, but quickly forget my blessings when those good times turn bad. Can you relate? Why do we have such a hard time maintaining an attitude of gratitude? Well, we are not alone. God knew His people would have the same problem when their lives in the Promised Land went from being filled with “milk and honey” to the challenges of life. When they crossed the Jordan River, God commanded Joshua to have a reminder built out of stones from the riverbed, one stone for each tribe. This pile of river rocks was to be a memorial for generations to come of God’s mighty deeds on their behalf (Joshua 4:4-9). God literally built a gratefulness reminder on the banks of the Jordan River.
Several years ago, our family was enduring some challenging times. Unemployment and its resulting financial issues, and the “joys” of raising toddlers and teenagers simultaneously, threatened to embitter our family toward one another and toward God. As I struggled to maintain my personal time in the Word, God used my reading in Joshua to convict me of my need to intentionally teach my children to be thankful, even in the tough times. And we needed a visual reminder, just like the Israelites. But where was I to find a dry riverbed?
As it turns out, brown construction paper can be cut into pretty convincing “stones”, and a kitchen pantry door makes a great “riverbank”! As a family, we began counting our blessings, and writing them on our thanksgiving stones. As our memorial grew on that pantry door, God restored our joy and reminded us that He still cared for and loved us. That Thanksgiving and Christmas season is one we will never forget, as God blessed our family in amazing and miraculous ways, allowing us to fill our pantry door with blessings, and even share those blessings with others.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18