Thoughts on How to Be Thankful

A group of us recently discussed the fact that most Americans have essentially self-centered and unrealistic expectations of life. We want to achieve something. We want to avoid pain. We want to feel beautiful. We want great relationships, fun vacations, retirement savings. We want. We want. We want.

And because we want what we often can’t have, we become disillusioned, frustrated, angry, anxious… ungrateful.

Many in America and most of the rest of the world don’t have such high expectations. They know they can’t have, so they don’t want. They’re grateful simply to have their needs met: to have clothing, to have food. It’s interesting that God tells us if we seek first His kingdom, that’s exactly what He will provide: the basics (Matthew 6: 28-33).

As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s timely to think about how we can be thankful when some of us barely have our needs met, and few of us have received the wants we dream for.

Maybe we need to change our expectations.

Maybe we need to “seek first” God. The Apostle Paul said that he considered everything to be “garbage” compared to knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3: 7-11). Maybe we need to expect one thing supremely, to have one ultimate dream in this life: to know Jesus better than we do now, to find ultimate satisfaction through our intimacy with Jesus.

But the dream to know Jesus deeply won’t fully come true in this life either. We won’t know Jesus perfectly until we see Him face to face. Still, even a partial vision of His face, an incomplete knowledge of His love, satisfies our souls — whether we “feel” it or not — far, far more than any other want fulfilled.

Maybe we have to lose a lot of our dreams and wants in order to know Jesus better, too. But it will have been worth it. And as we grow closer to Jesus, we will find ourselves filled with the gratitude that requires no outward blessings, a gratitude to the One who died for us so that He could become the satisfier of our souls.

So, this Thanksgiving, why not ask: is Jesus all I need? And if not, ask what dreams must I repudiate until He becomes all I want?

Lorraine Kalal