When I was in college, my days were organized around carrying a double major and working full time. My mom was frustrated with my incessant activity and often “suggested” that I just stay home to learn to cook, clean and do housework. I had one instant response to her continual prodding: “No, thanks, Mom. If I ever need to know that stuff, I’ll take a crash course.”
And crash…I did!… 5,420 miles to the south in Argentina! I took that crash course as a newlywed in the “foreign” country that ultimately became my home for 27 years. I took the crash course alone. Mom wasn’t available by e-mail, IM, Facebook, Skype, or anything faster than snail-mail. No help. To give you an idea of how inexperienced I was at cooking, the roof of Jorge’s mouth actually peeled because I put too much white pepper in the stew. I couldn’t find black pepper in our town.
Habitual practice. That is an excellent way to learn just about anything: to read, to ride a bike, to swim, to play a sport, to drive, etc. Nearly everything we do is learned with practice, practice, and more practice; even being thankful. What? Learning thankfulness?
No doubt, the apostle Paul learned thankfulness by habitual practice. That’s why he could sing praises to God in prison after having been beaten. (Acts 16:25) Because he had learned thankfulness, he wrote about his suffering, his needs, tribulation and imprisonments, summing up his testimony by saying “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things”. (2 Corinthians 6:10). Having learned thankfulness himself, he could encourage the believers in Thessalonica to give thanks in everything. (1st Thess. 5:18) and instruct the church in Philippi to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”. (Philippians 4:6)
Well, eventually, I learned to cook by habitual practice… but have I learned thankfulness yet? Am I habitually practicing thanksgiving? Have I mastered the art of expressing my appreciation to others, and – more importantly – my gratitude to God for all of His wonderful gifts? The psalmist encouraged habitually giving thanks in Psalm 92:1,2. He wrote: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” That sounds pretty much like a habitual practice: “in the morning, …every night”. November is “Thanksgiving Month”. Let’s challenge ourselves to honor God with the habitual practice of thankfulness!