What Are You Thankful For?

Pastor James
November 16, 2023

Thanksgiving is one week away. Is there anything you are thankful for? Are you a grateful person? Do others see you as such? Gratitude is the key to happiness, they say. Some have enough to be the envy of everyone around them, yet so miserable because they are fixated on what they don’t have. I hope you are not such a person. If you are a grateful person, you don’t need much to be happy, do you? It’s not that you are unaware of what you lack. But you do not take for granted what you already have. So, you can be content despite your many needs.

While it is important to be a grateful person, what we are grateful for is also crucial to true happiness. We are grateful for what we value. Unfortunately, the things that we value in this world come with the anxiety factor. The more we value something, the greater our anxiety about losing it. The brief joy of acquiring something valuable casts a long shadow of anxiety. The more things and people we have to cherish, the more we have to worry about.

There is another problem with what we value in this world. This is illustrated by a Chinese story called “Mr. Sae’s Horse.” Mr. Sae had a horse. One day, the horse ran away. So, his neighbors came to him to offer their sympathy. But Mr. Sae was stoic about it and said, “Well, you never know.” Sure enough, some time later, the runaway horse came back with a mare and a foal. His neighbors came again, this time offering their congratulations. But Mr. Sae remained stoic and said, “Well, you never know.” A few years later, Mr. Sae’s only son was riding the foal, fell, and got crippled. The neighbors came again, feeling sorry for what happened. his response was again, “Well, you never know.” Many years later, the country was embroiled in war, and, by royal decree, all the able-bodied men were conscripted. But Mr. Sae’s only son was spared because he was crippled.

Doesn’t this story resonate with your life experiences? What you thought was a great blessing can lead to a disaster. And what you were so sad about losing or not getting may turn out to be a great blessing.  “You just never know.” Such is the nature of the good things in this life, including our relationships: they are transient; they can also cause much disappointment and heartache. Think about the tender vows taken at the wedding ending up in all the vitriolic accusations in the divorce court.

Maybe there is so much misery in this world because we are not grateful people, and what we are grateful for ends up disappointing us. Is that our lot—disappointment, dissatisfaction, and misery? The Bible declares that that is not what God intended when He created man in His image. God desires us to be happy—truly and eternally happy—because He is Eternal Happiness. Just as a light bulb cannot shine unless it is connected to a source of electricity, we cannot be truly happy unless we are “connected to God.”  

How can you not be grateful to God when you realize that your happiness is in Him? If your happiness is “connected” to God, you will not be disappointed. You may not get your way, but your way may not lead to the happiness you wanted but the misery you didn’t want. But God’s love does not wax and wane like the love of others. Everything in this world changes and decays, but He does not change.

We can be sure of this because of what God has done to save sinners. We can say that sin is what makes us ungrateful and miserable, not to mention offending God. But God was willing to sacrifice His Son to pay the penalty of our sin and set us free from it. If He was willing to sacrifice so much to free sinners from sin, will He not employ everything in His power to bring us true, eternal happiness? I hope you can receive that happiness by putting your trust in Jesus Christ. May you have something to be truly grateful for this Thanksgiving!