Let’s be thankful people

Recently I had to review a colouring book entitled Thankfulness (SPCK, London 2016) designed by Lizzie Preston. The book’s purpose is to help people relax and unwind by focussing on the theme of thankfulness. I confess that I am not into colouring, but I did find some of the 30 quotations quite thought-provoking:

  • In every minute of every day, there is always something to be thankful for (Anon)
  • Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy (Jefferson Bethke)
  • Thankfulness creates gratitude, which generates contentment that causes peace (Todd Stocker)
  • Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse (Henry Van Dyke)
  • There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude (Robert Brault)
  • Be in a state of gratitude for everything that shows up in your life. Be thankfulness for the storms as well as smooth sailing (Wayne W. Dyer)
  • Be thankfulness for the hard times, for they have made you (Leonardo DiCaprio)
  • If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul (Harold Kushner)
  • Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings (William Arthur Ward)
  • Gratitude is the key to happiness. Be grateful for what you have and you’ll realize it’s more than enough (Anon)
  • Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude (Denis Waitley)
  • Work hard, dream big and achieve your goals, and be grateful for everything (Anon)
  • The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy (Guillaume Apollinaire)
  • Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have (Anon)
  • Comparison is the thief of joy (Roosevelt)
  • Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is (Mandy Hale)
  • With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy (Oscar Wilde)
  • Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom (Marcel Proust)
  • The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become (Robert Holden)
  • The value we place on what we’ve been given correlates to our depth of gratitude for it
  • Gratitude is the memory of the heart (Jean Baptiste Massieu)
  • Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and more thanks (Shakespeare)
  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them (John F. Kennedy)
  • As you rise with the morning sun, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love (Marcus Aurelius)
  • Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairy tale (Wale Ayeni)
  • If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier (John Wooden)
  • True happiness is to… enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future; not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or feats, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is abundantly sufficient (Seneca)

But interesting and even insightful some of these quotes may be, there was perhaps a degree of superficiality. The focus was very much on this world. Furthermore, I was a little surprised that for a book published by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge not one quotation came from the Bible. Surely some of the following verses could have been included:

  • Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pt, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle (Psalm 103.2-5)
  • Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift (2 Cor 9.15)
  • Be thankful… giving thanks to God the Father through the Lord Jesus (Col 3.15, 16)
  • Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests made known to God (Phil 4.6)
  • Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5.18)
  • Let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe (Hebs 12.28)

As we approach the end of one year and look forward to the coming of another, there is a lot to be said for Christian leaders to encourage their people to see God’s hand at work in their lives, and to be thankful. Yes, even in tough times, even when life is unfair and unjust, we can always thank God that in all things he works for good for those who love him (see Rom 8.28).

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