This November, just as all of America has been gearing up for a season of gratitude, my family has been facing some challenges that have threatened our security as far as our physical lives on earth are concerned (job challenges). There’s nothing like a good trial to remind us Who is in control!
I’ve been reminded this Thanksgiving season that gratitude without an understanding of who God is really falls flat. We can be thankful for our homes, our stuff, and even for non-material things such as family, friends, and experiences, but what if those things are taken away from us? Can we still be thankful then?
Because the blessings that we have in Christ so far surpass the things of this world that there is no comparison! God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours, and we should not base our gratitude on our circumstances but instead should give thanks in everything (1 Thess. 5:17).
I wanted to find a way to teach my children about Biblical gratitude, and I thought of a project that might help. For our morning Bible time on Thursday, I got out the MacArthur Topical Bible. We opened to the section on Thanksgiving to see what the Bible says about being thankful. We quickly saw that Biblical thanksgiving goes beyond being thankful for the things of this earth (although we should be thankful for God’s daily provision for us!). Paul was thankful in Romans 1:8 that so many in the Roman church had become believers. In 1 Timothy 1:12, Paul was thankful that God had enabled him to be in ministry. Jesus was thankful for the loaves and the fishes in John 6:11. Jesus was thankful for the Father hearing his prayer in John 11:41. In Psalm 106:1 we are commanded to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.
We started making a list of all the things that we can be thankful for about God’s character and the things He does for us. We wrote down a verse to go with each thing. I gave the boys many of the ideas, but I was so impressed at how they were able to use their Awana verses to add to this list! They have memorized more than I had realized.
Here is what we came up with:
- God provides salvation for us – John 3:16
- God saves other people – Romans 1:8
- God has given His word to us – Psalm 119:97,105
- God is good – Psalm 106:1
- God is willing to forgive – Psalm 86:5
- God answers our prayers – Psalm 118:5
- God comforts us in trials – 1 Corinthians 1:3-4
- God never leaves us – Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5
- God is completely trustworthy – Psalm 62:8
- God is sovereign over the affairs of life – Genesis 50:20
- God works all things together for good – Romans 8:28
- God keeps His promises – Hebrews 10:23
- God allows us to have deep fellowship with other believers – Hebrews 10:24-25
- God provides for our needs – Matthew 6:33
- God gives us many enjoyable things – James 1:17
When our list was complete, I told the boys that we were going to think of a gift that we could make using this list so that we could share a reminder of God’s blessings with others.
We came up with the idea of making a fall leaf display with the truths about God and the verses from the list above.
I made a cardboard leaf pattern for the boys to trace onto construction paper:
Aidan and Gresham cut out the leaves. Aidan helped me type up all the verses on the computer (good practice for him!), and we printed them and cut out each one.
The leaves looked so pretty all assembled!
I wanted to find a little basket to hold the leaves so that they would make a nice gift, but that turned out to be easier said than done! We went to Hobby Lobby, Target, and Walmart, and didn’t find any baskets the right size and shape. At Walmart, however, we found this bowl in the dish section, and it was perfect (and very affordable too)!
This morning, we delivered this bowl of leaves to someone at church that we had chosen to give it to. Hopefully it will be a blessing to that family!
I have really enjoyed being a part of the 30 Day Giving Challenge this November. While we are called to be generous all year, I think that it has been good for us to take a month to be more intentional about giving. I also want to encourage you all not to wait until your children are perfect, or even just well behaved, to involve them in service! When we went shopping for the basket (bowl) part of this project, my boys were just about as unpleasant as possible. They weren’t upset about having to do this project. In fact, I don’t really know what their deal was! They bickered their way through Hobby Lobby. Aidan was mad because every time he suggested a basket that we could buy, Gresham said it was dumb. Gresham was mad because Aidan touched him. Aidan was mad at Owen because Owen pushed him. And on and on and on… We had to have a discussion in the van before going to our next stop, and each of the boys prayed for forgiveness and asked God to help them treat their brothers the right way. And thankfully our next stop was better with no fighting!
I am so thankful that God is patient with all of us and that He uses our imperfect service for His glory!