“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
“Forgive me for the days I was not grateful” were the words a man, by the name of Markus Sims, chose to have engraved on his headstone. When I first heard of his story, immediately my heart was challenged. To be quite honest, convicted is a better word. I’m not always the best about being grateful, especially when life is throwing me curve balls. So for Markus to have those words engraved on his tombstone, struck me. Markus, being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, chose to be grateful. He said in his interview, “I wasn’t always grateful, I had to learn how, so I started by being grateful for the small things: my next meal, clothes, etc. The more thankful I became for the little things, the easier to become grateful for the big things, and in the hard things.”.
Many of us read this statement and think, so I need to be more grateful, but do I need forgiveness for being ungrateful? And the answer is yes. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in EVERYTHING for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”. Notice this scripture wasn’t a suggestion, it is a command. And it’s God’s will for you. By being ungrateful, we are also disobedient; disobedience is a sin. Ouch! Trust me, I know. Can I make an observation though? Scripture reads in everything, not for everything. I was not thankful that diabetes and cancer took my grandparents; Markus was not grateful for his cancer either, but we can still be grateful in everything. Start small, be thankful for the food on your table, the clothes on your back, the little bit of paycheck you do have, and the breath you woke up with today. You won’t always be thankful for the situation, but you can still find something to be grateful for in your situation.
Psalm 39:4, Lord, make me aware of my end and the number of my days so that I will know how short-lived I am.
For Markus, it took a significant diagnosis for him to realize the importance of thanksgiving. Suddenly perspective changed, he was thankful for a lot more considering his life would soon come to an end. Maybe you too are facing a life-altering situation and are learning to be grateful, start small, but start. Perhaps you are a lot like myself and being grateful is just a challenge at times, again start with the small things, find the little things to be thankful for. Maybe you struggle to see things in your life to be grateful for, seek things in Christ, look to eternity. If you are a child of God, you can be thankful that He came, He died, and He will come again! Our sins are forgiven, the promise of eternity with Him, the very anticipation of heaven will always be enough to make you grateful.
God, forgive me for the days I was not grateful, you delivered your son to die for me, and while that is enough, you didn’t stop there. You also sent him to prepare a place for me, a place I never deserved. Help me to be thankful in all things; I can be grateful just knowing you’re near. I pray that through the joy you give me, through thankfulness in all things, I can touch and change lives for you. Amen.