My grandmother lived in LA . . . Lower Alabama. In fact, she was raised close to UCLA . . . the Upper Corner of Lower Alabama. I can still remember as a boy watching her on the back porch pour a cup of water down the pipe while working the handle up and down. To get that water flowing, granny was priming the pump.
November in America is known for falling leaves, a chill in the air, topped off by Thanksgiving. Some turkey and dressing, maybe ham, along with pecan or pumpkin pie. Add family and friends, possibly some football . . . does it get any better than that?
It ought too. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving, unless there is thanksgiving. So let’s prime the pump! Let’s make sure gratitude flows, not just for the 4th Thursday of November, but everyday.
Keep An Eye Out For Blessings That Look Otherwise – Like that last space at the far end of the Walmart Parking lot . . . which means you can walk. When the heating bill spikes this winter . . . which means you were not cold. When the kitchen is a disaster zone . . . which means loved ones were around. When those trees shed leaves and guess who’s got to rake them . . . which means you got a place to call home. Or what about hand-me-down clothing that allows money to go toward other needs; a job you don’t like that pays the bills; an old car that still gets you to work. The list could go on. Often God’s blessings are missed because things are not like we want.
Back when only a few were allowed to go, Dagoberto Jorge shared: "Returning to Cuba to visit my sister and brother and their families, I was appalled by the poverty pervading my homeland. People were starving; some of my relatives looked like walking skeletons. One night I sat down at a dinner table bearing only meager scraps. As the little ones bowed their heads, my brother-in-law gave a heartfelt prayer. I could understand his faith--but those undernourished children who had nothing: I stared at them. "What are you giving thanks for?" I asked. The five-year-old looked up. "For everything.'" (Guidepost, August 1994).
Things may not be like you want. There may be a lot you wish would change. But don’t let any of that stop you from thanking God ‘for everything.’ Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above . . . (James 1:16-17)
. . . and that includes well disguised blessings. Keep an eye out for them. Prime the pump with them. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night . . . (Ps 92:1-2).
Don’t Forget Those ‘Enough’ Blessings – It’s a not-so-famous prayer in Scripture: Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God (Pro 30:8-9). That’s a content person asking God for ‘enough.’ Not more than enough. Just enough. If you have enough food, clothing, a place to sleep . . . thank the Lord. Don’t go through this season, much less life, wanting more than enough. When we want more than enough, gratitude dries up.
Proverbs 15:16 – Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Enough.
Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Enough.
1 Tim 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. Enough.
Yes, you may like to have more. And God in His providence may provide you more. But right now He has not. So prime the pump with gratefulness for ‘enough.’ But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever (Ps 79:13).
And For Sure Thank The Lord For The Blessings That Really Count – That from eternity past, He set His heart on you . . . that on the cross He paid in full the penalty for your sins . . . that He called you into His family . . . that He forgave you, adopted you, giving you a new nature . . . that the Holy Spirit lives within . . . that God saw to it you had His Word in your language . . . for the transforming power of His Word . . . for the believer’s eternal hope . . . for Romans 8:28 . . . for believing family and friends . . . for God’s goodness . . . His faithfulness . . . . for the things that you dreaded that did not happen. And yes, for the purposes of God behind the things that did happen, that you wished were otherwise. Whatever . . . Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever . . . (Ps 136:3).
The Chinese proverb says:‘Those who have free seats at a play hiss first.’
Our seats are free! God’s grace has seen to that. So count those blessings. Don't be a hisser. Do it with family. Include the young children and the things they enjoy, connecting the dots back to the Lord. If they are around, do it with your aging parents. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Ps 100:4-5).
. . . and have a great Thanksgiving! Blaine