A few years ago on America’s Funniest Home Videos, a young boy was shown on Christmas morning. He came running down the stairs all excited to see a large present beside the tree. Once he noticed it had his name on it, he ran over to tear it open to see what was inside. The paper went flying and suddenly he broke into a dance and jumped around the room screaming, “WOW! JUST WHAT I WANTED! I REALLY LOVE IT! WOW!” However, after awhile he went back over to look at it again and said with a puzzled look on his face, “What is it?”
Are you ever that way? The excitement gets to you, but you don’t really understand what it’s all about. I can remember watching an Ohio State football game a year or two ago with Nellie and a bunch of Ohio State fans. Notice I didn’t include Nellie in that list of Ohio State fans, because she was more of a tag along anyway. She doesn’t really get it when it comes to football. Anyway, during the game, Ohio State made a huge play and scored a touchdown that put them into the lead, and everyone in the room erupted into excitement and cheer. Everyone, including Nellie. Once the excitement died down a bit, she leaned over to me and asked, “What just happened?”
Well, on that first Christmas the angels announced the birth of a new child. The Heavens were opened and all the company of the Heavenly host broke into praise. Shepherds went racing to Bethlehem to see what it was all about. Wise men from the East came to present their gifts and to worship this newborn baby. And for over two thousand years we have been jumping up and down saying, “Wow! Just what I wanted! Exactly what I needed!”
But seems that in the very next breath we look again inside the stable and ask, “What is it?” People today are puzzled by God’s gift. They are excited, but they just don’t know why. Perhaps it is because inside each of us is a longing to be close to that baby, a void that can only be filled by a relationship with this child. But as we gaze into the manger scene, do we really understand what it is that God gave us?
I hope that with this past week being Thanksgiving, that everyone took a moment to be thankful for the many blessing they have in their lives. I hope that it is not just a once a year event, but a daily practice that we all have where we thank God for the things in our lives. Perhaps you made a list, maybe you uttered a prayer of thanks. You might have even gone around the dinner table and everyone shared one thing you were thankful for.
If you did, I’m sure they were some pretty good things, but we are challenged by the words of I Thessalonians 5:18 to, “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
That’s hard to do, isn’t it? I mean, sometimes in life we have some really bad days. But what we need to do is see the bright side of things. We have so much to be thankful for, but we don’t thank God because we focus on the wrong things. For example, I don’t think that any of the things I am about to mention made your list of things to be thankful for. I have shared this once before, but here are some things to be thankful for, that we may not look at as a blessing:
I am Thankful for the taxes I pay ….because it means I’m employed.
I am Thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug ….because it means I have enough to eat.
I am Thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing ….because it means I have a home.
I am Thankful for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot ….because it means I am capable of walking.
I am Thankful for all the complaining I hear about our government ….because it means we have freedom of speech.
I am Thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours ….because it means that I’m still alive.
I am Thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off key ….because it means that I can hear.
And finally, I am Thankful for the Old Rugged Cross… because it means my faith is in Jesus Christ.
Now many times we look at some of those things and we’re not so thankful for them, are we? We look at that list, and we sort of see the negative side of each of those. But if we stop and think of what we still have, we will understand that we have some great things we should be thankful for.