With Thanksgiving quickly approaching here in the US, I decided to use the theme of giving thanks in my monthly letters to our sponsored children. I've written very similar letters in previous years, but I think encouraging others to find ways to be thankful is a message that never gets old.
In addition to the letter, I included two extra sheets of paper the kids could use to record their gifts. One is just a printout of lines with Psalm 107:1 on the top. The other is a printable I found HERE. There are lots of great printable ideas on the Compassion Second Friday Letter Writing Club Pinterest board.
Here's what I wrote this time....
Be Joyful always
Give thanks in all circumstances
For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Here in our country it is the time of year when we celebrate Thanksgiving. On this holiday and the days surrounding it, we pause and reflect on all the gifts and blessings God gives us, and we offer our thanks to him. Usually families get together for a big meal – traditionally we eat turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
I love the verse printed at the top of this page for several reasons. First, it’s a good reminder that God’s will for us is that we are joyful, prayerful and grateful at all times. When we choose to be joyful, pray and give thanks, we keep our eyes and minds and hearts focused on Christ. Secondly, it’s a good reminder to be thankful in ALL circumstances. It’s so easy to be thankful when we are well fed, healthy and happy. It’s much harder to be thankful when we are hungry, out of work, sick and sad.
A couple years ago I read a book called 1000 Gifts. In the book the author challenges the reader to begin making a list of all the gifts God gives us each and every day. Some gifts are beautiful – like sunsets, flowers and rain. Some gifts are heart-warming –like family, friends and loved ones. Some gifts are miracles - like healing and answered prayer. Some gifts are hard – like sickness, loss of loved ones and broken relationships.
Right now I have a friend who is sick with cancer. It’s a terrible disease and her fight against it will be a long one. But I can offer thanks to God in the midst of this hard situation. I can thank God for her faith. I can thank God that she is part of our church family and we can take care of her.
After reading the book I mentioned, I began making a list of all the things I am thankful for each day. I take a few minutes at the end of each day to add to my list. Every time I get a letter from you, I add it to the list. Slowly all my entries add up and now two years later my list has over 4000 gifts on it! Taking time to thank God for everything has really made a difference in how I live.
I want to encourage you do start your own list. Find and memorize Bible verses that encourage and instruct you to be thankful. You can start with the one at the top of this letter. I’ve included a couple fun sheets for you to use to write your gifts down.
We are so thankful for you and for the opportunity to get to know you and love you!