Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
The inspiration to write this devotional article came to me November 25, 2010. It was Thanksgiving Day. Although Thanksgiving is a special day set aside each year in the U.S. to give thanks to God for our blessings, what really made me stop and reflect on my many blessings was the fact that I was taking a few minutes between dinner preparations to pay our bills.
I realize that paying bills is not something most people would choose to do on Thanksgiving Day. The thing is, my husband had just gotten paid the day before and there were a few bills that needed our immediate attention.
Payday always seems to give me a false sense of security. I look at our checking account and think to myself; Wow, we have money now! The truth is that the money doesn’t seem to go very far these days.
The following is my itemized list of bills in order of importance.
- · I begin by first paying our rent. That always seems to be at the top of the list in importance. We need a place to live.
- · Second on the list by importance is Consumers Energy. It is no fun to be without heat and lights in Michigan in the winter time.
- · Third in importance is to set aside money for our car payment. My husband is retired, but without a car I would be unable to go to work and earn money. Of course there are many other benefits to owning a car also.
- · Fourth on the list by importance would have to be our medical insurance. We have two separate policies. My husband is retired and receives Medicare, however in order to cover the many medical expenses he has, namely, his prescriptions, he needs to pay for a backup insurance. I am relatively healthy; however, one stay in the hospital, whether due to accident/injury or a sudden illness, could wipe us out for a lifetime.
- · We have one credit card which never quite seems to get paid off, so that would be fifth on my list.
- · We have the triple play plan for phone, internet and TV from Comcast. That is sixth in importance.
- · Our cell phones would have to be next on my list. The cost of our cell phones is outrageous and we do not use them enough to make them cost effective. They will be eliminated when our contract is up.
That pretty much covers our list of bills. Now that I have them all paid, I look at my balance and think to myself; there is barely enough left for groceries, let alone, gas for our car, and spending money. I realize also that what should be number one of our list, and which I completely forgot about, is the gift we set aside to give to God each week.
But wait a minute – I forgot. What about the one hundred and some dollars we owe our Doctor? We also owe the hospital money and – Oh yes, I owe my dentist for the crown I will be getting in a couple of weeks. Hopefully that cracked tooth will not split down the middle before my appointment. My husband then reminds me that we owe almost $300 for the new tires we purchased for our car… and the list goes on.
At this point each month I begin to feel very discouraged and this month was no different. It was Thanksgiving Day and it was a time to reflect on the many blessings we receive each year from the Lord and I was becoming depressed rather than being thankful. Where would the money come from to pay all these expenses?
At this point I stopped and reminded myself that I have much more to be thankful for than I realize. I receive many blessings every day of my life which I take for granted, and forget to thank God for. Let me see if I can think of just a few…
- I live in a free country where I can worship the Lord when and where I please without fear. I think we often forget, or don’t realize what a wonderful blessing this is. Thank you God for freedom to worship you!
- I was born into a Christian home, brought to baptism and taught the word of God from little on. Thank you God for my Christian parents!
- I received a Christian education from first grade through my first and only year of college. I have been taught the scriptures – I have known from infancy the Holy Scriptures which are able to make [me] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.( 2 Timothy 3:15) Thank you God for my Christian Education!
- I have a husband who loves me and has provided for my needs for 39 years. He has always put the needs of myself and our children before his own. He is a very special man. Thank you God for my husband!
- I have a wonderful family whom I love and who loves me. God has blessed my husband and me with 4 awesome children who are now adults. We also now have 15 grandchildren. Thank you God for my family!
- When our children were small, my prayer to God each day was that He would give me wisdom to lead them by word and example to grow into young adults who would love and honor Him. He answered “Yes” to my prayer. Thank you God for wisdom!
- I have a comfortable home to come to at the end of each day. I have never been homeless. I have no idea how it would feel to be exhausted, cold and hungry and have nowhere to go – no safe haven where there would be a warm meal, people who love me, and a comfortable bed to crawl into for peaceful rest. God has put me in a place where I meet people almost every day who have been, or are currently in that position. Many are single mothers who have young children they are responsible for. I can’t even imagine how desperate they must feel. Thank you God for shelter from the elements and for safety!
- At the age of 60, I am healthy and strong. I am physically able to work and I still lead an active and productive life. Thank you God for my health!
- I am blessed to have not only one, but two part-time jobs which I enjoy and which help support us. Thank you God for my work!
- Although I complain about money spent on car repairs, how would I be able to work without my car? I guess I could call Your Ride although I have seen and heard how undependable they are from the people I meet in my workplace. Without a car I would definitely have to move closer to the bus line and I would have to stand out in the cold and rain to wait for it. Thank you God for my car!
- Each time I open my refrigerator I see food available to me in some form. Although I should be thankful to just have clean cold water to drink, when I look in my refrigerator I see a choice of several different kinds of pop, Kool-Aid, milk, juice and even some wine to drink. Thank you God for an abundance of food and drink!
- As I look around my house I see a couch, a love seat, a recliner, 3 end tables, a 42 inch TV, a DVD player and sound system, a king size bed, 3 dressers, a dinette set, an abundance of clothing for summer and winter, coats and jackets and more pairs of shoes than I have room to store. There are also 2 computers, 2 desks, 2 printers, and an electronic piano. Thank you God for the material possessions that make my life more enjoyable!
I could list more, but I think I have made my point. I am blessed! Although God blesses each of us in different ways and with different gifts and blessings, we are all very blessed!!! We all have exactly what we need according to His plan for us and much more besides. The blessings God has showered on us far outweigh the negative issues we face each day and each month.
I have come to realize as the saying goes that the best things in life truly are free. This life on earth is only a little blip in time. I rejoice in the fact that because of Jesus I don’t have to fear death and I can look forward to eternity in the mansions of heaven.
I live in a country where I am free to worship God who gives me all things. He gives me material blessings in abundance, but the best gift He has given me and all people is the gift of His Son, our Savior. Jesus lived a perfect life for us. He died a horrible death in our place to pay off our debt to God. Through Jesus we are free from the chains of sin that drag us down and make us think we have nothing to live for.
Thank you God for the uncountable blessings you give us day after day. Help us like the apostle Paul, to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. And to remember; I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4: 12, 13)
Happy Thanksgiving Day 2010 to all! Gloria Dei!