“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
— Philippians 4:6
By Chaplain (Maj.) Clark Sneed
Thanksgiving makes me philosophical. My grandfather, a child of the Great Depression, often quipped that they were so broke he could not draw a dollar with a pencil and paper. His father would not let him ride the family bicycle unless there was an actual destination, otherwise he was “just wearing down the rubber on the tires.” He never owned much, but kept telling me how thankful he was “to have a little bit of something rather than a whole lot of nothing.”
Gratitude is therapeutic. It can, however, be elusive in a world filled with plenty. Just as hunger is the best spice, thankfulness makes life sweeter. How do we stay grateful and not take our blessings for granted? I suggest two ways: practice the art of contentment, and connect with your neighbor.
Paul writes, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) How can you practice contentment today? You can start by tuning out modern media. In the 1970s, the average American would have seen about 500 advertisements a day. By the time you go to bed tonight, you will have seen 5,000. So, turn it off. Take control.
As the saying goes, “What the eye does not admire, the heart does not desire.” Build the discipline of silence and reflection into your day.
Finally, God created us to live in community with one another. This is true for the introvert as much as the extrovert — we just have different ways of connecting. Loneliness has no scent. Sometime smiling people surround you who quietly yearn for friendship. Aristotle once wrote, “Friendship is most necessary for our life. For no one would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other goods.” Gratitude multiplies among friends. Thanksgiving, whether as a holiday or in daily life, is inherently a shared experience. With whom will you share yours?
(Editor’s Note: Sneed is a chaplain with the U.S. Army Engineer School).