Our Daily Affirmation…
Does anyone remember the video “Jessica’s Daily Affirmation”? If not, it is still on YouTube with the same title, check it out. To summarize, Jessica had a morning routine that consisted of her standing on the bathroom sink, shouting with joy into the mirror everything that she liked about her life. Everything from mom and dad to her haircut. After her adorable hype session, she climbs down off the sink and says, “I can do anything good.” Disclaimer: She then says she can do anything better than anyone… but that statement doesn’t sound very Christlike…
We are continuing the discussion on generosity. Last week’s devotional started a parallel conversation about how having a life marked by gratitude leads to a heart of generosity. As we think about the people who are the most generous, we often will also see a posture of gratitude.
The Bible points us toward generosity, but it also points us to thanksgiving, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Honestly, I don’t think that one can exist without the other. In Paul’s letters of instruction to the church, he writes about giving thanks all the time (like dozens of times.) In one of his more pointed statements, found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, he says “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” And when speaking about our real-world concerns, he wrote to the Philippians “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So, we see, thanksgiving is a big deal in our relationship with God and how we view our lives. Let’s be honest; life is hard. On top of that, holding onto faith, one that often costs us something, can sometimes make it feel even harder. I’m not just talking about money either. Sometimes our faith costs us time. Sometimes our faith cost us our reputation or our ability to feel like we “fit in.” Think about it. We simply cannot walk through the difficulties of life without remembering what we have (and Who we have) to be thankful for. Thanksgiving to God is us recognizing His gifts of goodness we receive, which then helps remind us of the depths of God’s faithful to us.
One day a writer named Robin Wall Kimmerer visited a school on the Onondaga Reserve in New York. They observed that every day students would recite their indigenous thanksgiving address. This poem was much more than a quick mealtime prayer of thanksgiving we are familiar with in modern Christian culture. This address mentioned all that they were thankful for; water, plants, animals, the sun, and so on. And after each statement of thanksgiving, they would respond with “we send greetings and thanks… and now our minds are one.”
This whole year our focus has been One. The church being one, unified with each other and with Jesus. To truly be one, one in generosity especially, we need to learn lessons from people like the Onondaga Nation and people like little Jessica. We need to learn how to see the world around us through the lens of thanksgiving. Not always seeing what we don’t have but taking the time to reflect on what we do have… to see life as a gift again each day.
Practicing thanksgiving doesn’t necessarily change anything about our current conditions, but it points us away from living in discontent and toward living generously and faithfully in Christlikeness. (We will discuss the dangers of discontent in next week’s devotional).
I’m sure those examples of the generous people you thought of last week knew the many reasons they had to be thankful. So, as we continue to look at ways we can live a life of generosity, let’s also take baby steps into living a life of thanksgiving as well. As we do, I think we will all begin to see just how perfectly these two practices go hand in hand. And no… you don’t have to stand on your bathroom sink in front of the mirror to do it… unless you want to… Just don’t film it.
What do we have to be thankful for today? This week? This year?