Every year between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I feel a little uneasy about the countdown of blessings so many people do. Something seems slightly “off” about it, but I’ve never been able to put my finger on what it is.
It’s like a gallon of milk that hasn’t actually expired. You know it should be good, but there’s enough of a strange scent that you pass it to the nearest person and ask them to confirm that it, indeed, does not smell right. (Why do we always do that?!)
I think I’ve finally put my finger on where the funny smell is coming from. It’s not that there is anything wrong with focusing on giving thanks every November. It’s great to have the reminder to think about the many wonderful things we have in our lives, and the Bible clearly calls us to give thanks to the Lord in all circumstances.
But the smell that’s slightly off for me is that gratitude alone is pretty easy.
It doesn’t require much sacrifice or change of heart to take inventory of our blessings. Gratitude is simply a measure of our perspective on the things we already have, and most of us can easily embrace those things with a seasonal reminder.
Gratitude is not what most of us struggle with most, however. It’s the closely related cousin named contentment that causes far more consternation.
While gratitude is a measure of our perspective on the things we already have, contentment is a measure of our perspective on the things we don’t have. It’s being able to say we want nothing more no matter how much or little we have.
But how is that possible? How can we ever genuinely say that we could want no more if we were to have almost nothing?
Such true contentment is only possible with a full dependence on Jesus. Every earthly thing can be taken from us, but Jesus can never be. We can always trust that He is all we need because His promises are for eternity; our earthly time is but a mist (James 4:14).
It’s amazing that as a society we go from gratitude in November to wanting more, more, more in December. What’s more amazing is that we’ve already been given the most we can have: the birth of Jesus.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the November counting of blessings naturally segued into the December counting of all the things we don’t need in light of the birth of Jesus?
I don’t need security. Or more money. Or more excitement. Or more kids. Or a different job. Or different schools for my kids. Or anything else.
I simply need the promise of an eternity with God, which is exactly what Jesus’ birth brought.
When we fully appreciate the promise that Christmas offers, we can say we are thankful for all we have and need nothing more. It is this gratitude with contentment that results in complete and lasting joy.
Each day this month, talk to your kids about something they don’t need in this world in light of the birth of Jesus. On Christmas, joyfully celebrate that we have ALL we will ever need in Him.
Want to give it a try? Leave a comment with something you DON’T need because you have Jesus!