I teach my son thankfulness and the practices of gratitude. I teach him to say “thank you” when someone gives him something. As soon as he learns his letters I will teach him to write thank you notes. We say prayers before bed every night (Okay, most nights; bedtime is hard) and that includes thanks to God for the good things in our lives.
I teach my congregation the same things: we say prayers of thanks throughout our Sunday services. We send thank you cards to those who help us in ministry. We say “grace,” which usually amounts to a prayer of gratitude to God, before all our church-wide meals.
Yet, there’s something about all of these thanks-giving practices that bothers me a little bit. Yes, when my heart feels ready to burst with gratitude because of something good in my life, I want to pray to God to say thanks, and I do. And yes, I believe that even when we are struggling, even when things are difficult, there is still much to be thankful for and we should express that gratitude. But even though I live and teach these ideas about thankfulness, I have always had an undeniable bit of discomfort with this giving of thanks. Read more