James Moore tells a story in one of his books about being invited after a speaking engagement to have dinner with a family in their home. When they sat down at the table, the mother called on their four-year-old son, Christopher, to say the blessing. She had mentioned to Mr. Moore earlier that she was trying to teach the children how to pray—not just memorized prayers, but prayers of gratitude to God straight from the heart. As they took their places at the table, this conversation took place:
“Christopher, will you say grace tonight?”
“Oh, Mom, do I have to? I don’t know how.”
“Sure you do. It’s your turn. Just thank God for our blessings. Just tell God what you are grateful for tonight.”
Then, like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting, four-year-old Christopher began to pray. With one eye devoutly closed in prayer and the other eye discreetly open so that he could look around as he prayed, Christopher thanked God for everything in sight.
“Thank you God for the chicken, the roast beef, the brown gravy, the potatoes, the tomatoes, the cantaloupe, the slaw, the baked beans, the salt, the pepper, the knives, the spoons, the forks, the placemats, the tablecloth, the napkins,” and on and on he went, naming everything on the table. His brother and sister snickered. His mom and dad smiled, and their shoulders shook as they tried so hard to keep from laughing out loud as Christopher continued.
“Thank you, God, for the table, the chairs, the floor and the drapes, the tea, the ice and the sugar, the Sweet’ N’ Low, the lemons, the ketchup.” Christopher thanked God for the people at the table, calling them all by name. He ended by thanking God for his dog, Spot, who was under the table pulling on Christopher’s pant leg. He thanked God for everything he could see, except for carrots, which he didn’t like.
While his brother and sister made fun of him as only siblings can do, Christopher was teaching them all a lesson. He was truly aware of all of the gifts that surrounded him and ignored the snickering of his siblings to make sure that each and every gift was recognized.
I have found that the happiest people I know are the grateful people; the strongest, most fulfilled people I know are the thankful people. These are the people who remain standing with their heads held high when life deals them the hardest blows. These are the people who have strong family relationships and live life to the fullest. The apostle Paul put it like this: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Whatever happens, give thanks.