Jesus and his disciples were with a crowd of more than 5,000 hungry people. They had only a little food - two small fishes and five barley loaves. Hardly enough to feed more than a few of the people. Things looked bad. But Jesus did an amazing thing. He said, "Thank you" to God.
Someone else might have thought, "This is such a pitiful amount of food; it's not nearly enough." But Jesus wasn't looking at the small amount of food. He was looking to God and how big and powerful and loving God is. And he knew they'd be fed. And they were (see John, chapter 6).
Jesus gave thanks to God lots of times. Someone might be sick or might even have died. Or someone might have been facing a big challenge. Whenever things were going wrong, Jesus didn't look at the trouble and get scared or feel down. He thought about God and what God was doing. He saw all that love and goodness. He saw God's power.
And he remembered other times when God's goodness was shown. So he wasn't afraid. He trusted God always to be taking care of things. So he said, "Thank you." And things always turned out OK.
Jesus wasn't thanking God for the tough things or the difficult times. He was thanking God for being God - for being the Father and Mother of all of us. Knowing this, he could trust that God's goodness and love would be made practical and would take care of whatever was needed.
I know that God cares for each of us, because one time someone in my family was really sick, and I was afraid. I kept thinking about what might happen, kept being scared. That didn't help. Then I began to think about God being God, and how God was right there with us and taking care of us. I kept thanking God for all the good He was doing. Then I wasn't afraid anymore, and the next morning the sickness was gone. Being grateful like that heals.
"In every thing give thanks," the Bible says (I Thess. 5:18).
I know some kids who are trying to do this. Gordon is grateful for his family. Bridge is grateful to be part of many relationships and activities. Lindsey is grateful for love. She said, "Without love, I don't think anyone would survive." Madalyn is grateful for family and home, comfort and security. And Margo, who is from Belarus, is grateful to be spending this year in America. She said, "I am grateful to God, who is helping me all the time."
These students think that being grateful helps us. This is what they said about gratitude:
• It reminds you of all the things that are special and important in your life. It's a way to appreciate those who love you.
• It helps you see all the good you've been given. You won't take it for granted and not appreciate it.
• Seeing the good already there brings brightness and satisfaction in your life. You see everything differently.
• Gratitude makes you feel better because it shows you all the good things that are happening to you.
• You find what is really important in your life with God.
Being thankful gets us thinking about God. We see the good that God has already given to us. Doing that clears out fear or complaining or doubting.
Saying "Thank you" to God is like opening a door. The more grateful you are, the wider the door opens. Through that "Thank you" door, you can see more and more of the good God has for all of us. And through that door, more and more of that good comes into your life.
Sing unto the Lord
with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God.