“Happy Thanksgiving,” the boy said to me…
Yesterday while walking through a major department store I was greeted by a young boy and his father with the phrase, “Happy Thanksgiving!” His gentle manner and kind words put a smile on my face. During the next few minutes, I observed this lad making his way down the aisles alongside his father. As often as he could the boy greeted every customer with the same friendly greeting, “Happy Thanksgiving”.
Even now it brings a smile to my face. Amazing what a simple phrase can do.
What’s the secret to Contentment?
Lately, I’ve been wondering about the secret enclosed in the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Phillipi.
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
When Paul wrote these words he was locked up in a cold, damp and musty prison in the city of Rome. The church at Phillipi could well remember the circumstances surrounding Paul’s first visit to their city when he suffered imprisonment and an undeserved beating. On that occasion, he and his companion, Barnabas, managed to sing their way through the pain and suffering. They undoubtedly had little difficulty in grasping the weight and significance of Paul’s words coined in yet another unjust imprisonment.
What was the secret formula that Paul had discovered for contentment?
It’s easy to be content and grateful when we’re sitting at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings. In other words when there is plenty.
But how about when there is want?
Today we’re grateful… tomorrow we need to extend our credit limit
In American culture, we tend to compartmentalize things far too much. Yesterday we were brimming with Thank-fulness, but today may plunge themselves into Black Friday. So swiftly we can move from gratitude to greed, from offering thanks to reaching for our credit card to buy the newest gadget for an already large collection.
That drives me back to Paul’s words. What, is the secret of contentment?
I would suggest that we limit our focus for now to the concept of gratitude. How can we cultivate gratefulness?
In the words of Brene Brown, “It seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without
works, – it’s not alive.” The Gifts of Imperfection, pg. 79.
Practice, Practice, Practice….
Like the boy in the department store the other day, maybe the key to unlocking contentment is to practice gratitude on a regular basis. Not just methodically repeating a catchphrase, but choosing to verbally express gratitude for the many gifts we have right around us each day.
I know that this may sound preachy or too much like psychological babel. But trust me, it’s not. God himself encourages us to express gratitude on a regular basis.
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thess. 5.18 NIV
Check out this same verse in a few other translations
and give thanks whatever happens [in all circumstances; in everything]. That is ·what God wants [God’s will] for you in Christ Jesus.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no, matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV.
Yes, that’s it. Expressing gratitude is key to learning how to be content. Expressing thanks on a daily, regular basis when things are going great or they aren’t. Eventually, it will produce contentment.
So what are you grateful for today? Why not practice giving thanks before you head out to your favorite Black Friday shopping place. It might serve a dual purpose and save you from being
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