As I stood at the kitchen sink, complaining about having to cut each individual grape in half and removing each of its tiny seeds, I thought, “I wasn’t the one who accidentally bought grapes with seeds, so why do I have to be the one who’s so inconvenienced?!” As I grew more annoyed with the tedious task set before me, my thoughts turned towards the upcoming holiday: Thanksgiving. My attitude was far from one of giving thanks. How could something so small (literally!) lead to such complaining? Silently I prayed, “Lord forgive me. Help me to give thanks even in this.” And He did: instead of complaining about someone buying the wrong grapes, I thanked Him that others in my family do the grocery shopping and that we had grapes to eat; instead of complaining that I had to pick out four tiny seeds per grape (yes, in my state of complaining I actually counted them!), I thanked Him for the people who would eat and enjoy them. My perspective completely changed but more importantly, praise and thanks were offered to the One to whom it is due.
I’m sure you aren’t complaining about grapes today, but is there something else that is keeping you from being grateful, from giving Him thanks? In Luke 17, we read of ten lepers who cried out to Jesus, that He might have mercy on them. He did, and He healed them. As you know, only one of the ten returned and thanked Jesus (see Luke 17:11-19). Let us not assume that we will remember to give thanks to Him in the “big and miraculous” moments if we don’t make a habit of doing it in the small ones. In fact, the devotional Our Daily Bread shares the following story: “Hearts were stirred and lives changed as Corrie ten Boom told with moving simplicity about God’s sufficiency to meet her needs, even as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Not only was the camp filthy but there were fleas everywhere. Corrie’s sister Betsie, who was imprisoned with her, insisted that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 was God’s will for them: “In everything give thanks.” But giving thanks in a flea-infested place seemed unrealistic to Corrie—until she realized why the guards didn’t come into their barracks to make them stop praying and singing hymns. They wanted to avoid the fleas! So, the prisoners were free to worship and study the Bible. The fleas, yes, even the fleas were agents of grace, and something to be thankful for. What are some of the “fleas” in our lives? They aren’t the big difficulties, but the petty annoyances. They are the little trials from which we can’t escape. Is it possible that they are one of the ways the Lord teaches us spiritual lessons and helps us to increase our endurance? When we are tempted to grumble, let’s remember the fleas and give thanks.”
One author noted, “In medicine the smallest germs can wreak the most havoc, and the tiniest pills can pack the biggest punch. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 can cure our irritability, lighten our depression, lessen our anxiety, and improve our disposition. In staccato-like style, the apostle Paul tells us to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful. And all three verses are all-pervading: Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything. Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Always. Constantly. Everything…Because all things work together for good, we can give thanks in everything. The Bible doesn’t tell us to be thankful for everything. Some things are bad in their very nature. There are no examples of biblical heroes thanking God for evil events. But we can be thankful in all things, for God has promised to turn them for good.”
Let’s remember this month, and always, to give Him thanks for the big things (like the leper did) and in the “small” annoyances (like the fleas or in my case, the grape seeds), to let Him work in us a grateful heart, knowing that even these are “agents of grace and something to be thankful for.”