We recently organised the youth we are discipling at a local Eritrean church to lead an English language worship service. We focused on the theme of thanksgiving and leading up to the service I meditated and prayed over a variation of Jeremiah 33.11; this is repeated in various forms in other Old Testament texts and Psalm 136:
I will give thanks to the Lord Almighty, For the Lord is good; His love endures forever.
We live in a day, a season, when many people think they are owed something or deserve what they have. It’s an ungrateful season. Or, there are those times when one when one does not feel grateful and cannot find anything for which to be grateful. It’s an ungrateful season.
A little over four years ago we were stateside with Tammy’s dad in his last weeks of life as cancer took its toll on his body. While he was in hospice, my mum passed away unexpectedly with a heart attack. Ten days later my father-in-law died. We were numb for the four weeks during that time, and another four weeks after we returned to England.
Early in those weeks a friend wrote to encourage us, and suggested we keep our eyes open for the ‘little blessings’ along the way. I am so glad we listened to her, because we found multiple reasons to be grateful to God in a difficult set of circumstances.
I concluded the message for this English worship service with the following suggestions for being thankful in an ungrateful season.
- be humble – don’t use the language of gratitude as a means of bragging or manipulating God (see Luke 18.9-14)
- be specific – name the act, feeling, circumstance, or person for which you are grateful
- be personal – go and express your offering of thanks in person; or, if that person is at a geographical distance then hand-write a card or letter
- be bold – even if there is some tension or distance in a relationship, express gratitude to that person in person even for something that may be insignificant; it may lead to reconciliation
- be grateful together – corporately expressing thankfulness together is powerful, encouraging, and transformative