I asked Ed, my old neighbour in Saskatchewan, “What makes folks most thankful?” Ed answered, “It isn’t wealth because everyone could use more money. Health is a big cause for thankfulness, but usually only after it’s gone, and folks realize how good they had it before losing it. Wisdom makes few people happy because everyone is wise in their own eyes and frustrated because few others see their smarts.” My old neighbour concluded that people couldn’t be thankful unless they are happy. He then added that he has found that few people are happy for long, including religious people like me. I offered that happiness is hard to maintain twenty-four seven.
Indeed, Christians aim to be thankful and happy in our God, our fellowship of faith, and our lives. Some of us are old, we are not bright and cheerful, everywhere, and to everyone. Most days, we are dim-lights and are a blend of cheerful and cranky. Young or old, we do not hold all happiness. We journey towards the lasting happiness of drawing closer in attitude and action to Jesus Christ. We recognize our weaknesses and limitations. Jesus instructed that to enter the Kingdom of God, we must become like children. Only a childlike attitude gives receptivity to Divine Consciousness to understand, implement, and practice God’s Holy Word in our lives.
Someone once asked C.S. Lewis: “Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?” Lewis answered: “While it lasts, the religion of worshiping oneself is the best. I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years and is, more or less, I regret to say one of the happiest men I know. I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. If you want a religion to make you feel comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” (page 178 C.S. Lewis, “How to Be a Christian, Reflections, and Essays.”)
Are Christians more thankful than other folks? I hope Christians are not trying to show off as being more grateful than others or each other. We have every reason to be thankful that Jesus left the perfect wealth, health, and wisdom of heaven to become a Savior for us on earth. Jesus showed a love for God His Father in heaven, obeying Him with all His heart, soul, and mind. His perfect obedience was for our sake, for we cannot be perfect in obeying God. He loved us completely, laying down His life for the punishment of our sins. He did this that we would declare that Jesus is Lord with our mouths and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead.
Children grow up in a loving relationship with their parents learning from and with them all of their lives. Being a Christian means growing up in a childlike relationship with Jesus, always learning from Him as our Savior and Lord. Our thankfulness is rejoicing in the Lord with gentle hearts evident to all. We are thankful that the Lord is near, and we need not be anxious about anything. In everything, we pray with thanksgiving to God, receiving His peace. (Philippians 4:4-7)