Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a really smart guy. He wrote about a lot of topics pertaining to the Christian life, including thankfulness, which is the “in” thing this time of year. Here are some of his words, taken from a 40 Day Devotional I’m receiving via email. (Check it out here. Emphasis mine)
Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the Christian life. Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the great things as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think that we should not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be seeking the great gifts. Then we complain that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experiences that God has given to other Christians, and we consider these complaints to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?
As people answer the question “What are you thankful for?” there are some answers that come up repeatedly. Tangible things, like family, friends, job, house, car. Intangibles, like grace, salvation, love. While important and true, these answers only skim the surface. As Bonhoeffer suggests, we forget to give thanks for the small.
A comprehensive list of things I’m thankful for would include all of the ones listed above: family, friends, job, house, car, grace, salvation, love. But it would include so many more.
- Church. I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of a church that has shown me glimpses of what true church should be.
- Laptop. For about a month and a half this year, I didn’t have one, and it gave me a renewed appreciation for having one. Considering how much I like to write, having laptop is important for me, and I’m so thankful to have one to type these words on.
- Travel. In May I got to go on a trip to London, Oxford, and Edinburgh, and it was amazing. It was by far the biggest adventure I’ve gone on so far, and not only did I have a lot of fun, I learned a lot about myself.
- Education. Had I not gone to college, and specifically Kuyper College, I’d be a very different person in a very different place in life. I’m so thankful for the head, heart, and hands knowledge I gained in my time there.
- Facebook. It sounds silly, but it allows me to keep in touch with a of friends I wouldn’t communicate with otherwise, either due to distance or other reasons, and I really appreciate it as a communication tool. One of my jobs is also in social media, so I appreciate it on a work level as well.
- Words. I’m so thankful God gave words as a way of expressing ourselves. I don’t know what I’d do without them–both the ones I write myself, and the good, truthful ones I read of others.
Some of those aren’t quite-so-little, so on a smaller scale, I’m also thankful for:
- Indoor plumbing.
- My goldfish.
- Ice cream.
- You, for taking the time to read this.
What are some of the little (or big) things you’re thankful for that you might sometimes forget to thank God for?
Til next time…
2 thoughts on “Thankfulness, Little Things, And Bonhoeffer”
I like your list of little things. Mine would include some of the same…especially coffee! Then my dogs (Cookie and Buddy), the windows in my kitchen that let in the sunrise in every morning at 6am, the pond that I get to see walking to work on Mondays and Wednesdays, the fact that I get to walk to work at all, my Ipod Touch cracked though it may be due to my carelessness, and the great ice cream around the corner at Gelotti’s. Home made, Mmm. Another reason to come to NJ. Aunt Lori
You know how to lure me in, Aunt Lori…I do love good ice cream! =)