Dear Fellow Followers of Jesus,
Setting aside a day to emphasize thanks giving as our country does is a very good thing. When thinking of things for which we can be thankful, if we have the blessings of good health, family and food, those things are usually come to mind. But are there more things for which we can thank God?
In his letter to the Jesus-followers in Philippi, Paul wrote, “… for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11b-13). Granted, Paul is talking about contentment, not thankfulness, but these two things are related because contentment frees us to look up to God and be thankful, and thankfulness to God helps us to see our life in the light of God’s love and we naturally become content. So what is the secret to Paul’s contentment?
It starts with how we see ourselves. If we are physical beings with hungers that need to be satisfied, then contentment and thankfulness can only happen when those needs are met. Presented with even a minute possibility of lack in one area of need and our heart finds it impossible to be content, let alone thankful. With this view of ourselves, contentment and thankfulness are rare and momentary with anxious worry being the norm.
But if we are spiritual beings enveloped in a physical body that serves as our interface with the surrounding world, then our situation is vastly different. With this understanding of humanity, our greatest needs are spiritual needs: reconciliation, forgiveness and peace from God the Son; infinite love, unconditional acceptance and providential care from God the Father; and encouragement, assurance and direction from God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, who is God the Son, has opened the door for us to have a relationship with himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and it is through this relationship that all of our spiritual needs are met.
Because all of our spiritual needs are met through Jesus, we are whole and complete regardless of what our physical circumstances may be. Times of plenty do not derail us and times of deprivation to not disturb us. We live our lives from the inside out, not the outside in. Everything on the inside has been completely taken care of by Jesus, so we can be content and thankful in times of plenty and in times of need. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
In Christ’s love,