I don’t remember when we started the tradition, but when our children were quite young, it was our practice when we gathered each Sabbath evening to each say something we were thankful for that week. It is surprising, or maybe not so surprising, how difficult it could be for one of our little ones to think of something for which they were grateful. Sometimes, the “thankful” would be as simple as “I’m thankful for my house!” or “I’m thankful for food!” We parents might have something more specific, like “I’m thankful for God’s protection on the long trip to Timbuktu and back earlier this week!”
While it’s no small thing to get back and forth safely from Timbuktu, I don’t want to lose my gratitude for the simple things as well. There is so much that we take for granted, that it’s worth stopping and recognizing how truly blessed we are by God, and being thankful for the basic needs that are provided daily by His grace.
I read a book a while ago called One Second After, by William Forstchen. In the book, the author describes life in a small American town in the aftermath of an Electromagnetic Pulse, or EMP, attack on the United States. The entire nation’s electrical grid is zapped out of working order, and anything electronic is instantly rendered inoperable – cars, cell phones, computers – all useless. In a moment, the entire country is returned to the 19th century, in terms of technology and lifestyle. Without the infrastructure to transport food, and the refrigeration to preserve it, people swiftly succumbed to sickness, starvation, and disease. It’s not an uplifting work of fiction, but it does provoke an appreciation for the basics of life that we so easily take for granted.
Though this is a work of fiction, the concept of EMP attack is very real, and military planners are very concerned about this type of attack. My purpose is not to stir up anyone’s anxiety about an attack on our electrical grid, but rather to stir us to thankfulness for the small things, which are really not so small, that we enjoy every hour of every day, but are so fragile.
We are blessed to live in a time and in a country in which we enjoy material blessings that were unimaginable to our great-great grandparents’ generation. So there’s nothing at all wrong with the childlike gratitude for house, for car, for food. Are you thankful tonight for the small things?