This month most of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate the national holiday we call Thanksgiving. We’ll circle up around a table full of food, family and friends; eat too much and fall asleep in front of multiple football options. We really have come a long way since the feast held in the autumn of 1621, by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.
But this year I want you to consider moving from “thankful” to “grateful” this year. In my word study to be thankful is more internal. It’s being pleased or relieved that what you were hoping for has occurred. To be grateful, on the other hand, means you appreciate what someone has done for you and you want to express your thanks to them. It’s a subtle, but, important difference.
In Luke 17, Jesus healed ten lepers. Nine were, no doubt, thankful as they obediently went to show themselves to the priest. Through their obedience they were healed. One, however, was grateful and returned to Jesus, “shouting, Praise God, as he fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet thanking him for what he had done.” Jesus points out the obvious when he states, “Weren’t there 10 that were healed?” Nine may have been thankful, but one came back to show how grateful he was.
I have always been proud of (or thankful for) my wife and my four children – now, mostly adults. The people I’ve worked with over the years have seen countless pictures of my family growing up. They’ve listened to my coaching and family adventure stories. They “know” my wife, Angie, even though many have never met her. Why is this? It’s because I am thankful for my family and I want others to know how blessed I am. But, what if this came as a surprise for my wife and children? (or friends or co-workers – fill in the blank) What if it was “news to them” because I’ve never taken the time to TELL THEM how grateful I am? In fact, what difference does it make if I tell the world how thankful I am for my family – IF I never tell them?
So this year as you circle the table with your family and friends to “be thankful” – why not take some time to tell each one of them just how grateful you are for them. And, if you see a surprised look on their faces you’ll know you should do this more often.