“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?” These words, written over 70 years ago by German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, still ring true today. We are not very good at being thankful. We are quick to notice when things do not go the way we want them to. We bemoan the state of the economy while at the same time often forget to thank God for the daily provision of food and water and shelter that many in the world do not enjoy. We ask God to bring peace to a troubled world and we rail against him when we see war and discord in so many places. Yet we fail to thank him for a night of quiet rest and the enjoyment of safety that we enjoy each day. There is much talk about the division between people because of ethnic and racial differences. At the same time we often fail to appreciate the relationships we have that know no racial boundaries. Bonhoeffer was right. We want big things, but we are not so good at being thankful for small gifts.
The only way I know to change this is to make gratitude a habit. It is not something that we can relegate to a celebration in November. It has to become a regular, daily, even moment by moment pattern of life. We need to learn to say thank you to God for everything because it all comes from his hand. It is good to thank people when they do things that we benefit from, but it is far more important to thank God, the source of everything that is good.