If you think back to your own childhood, I am sure you remember certain things your parents would say to you over and over again. I know I do. When I was little, sitting up to the dinner table, I heard “Lean over!” repeated at least ten times every night. When I was in grade school I heard my mom say, “Hustle your bustle!” every morning because I was always running late. And as I got on the bus she would always say, “Remember who you belong to.” Through my high school years, my dad would often say, “…give thanks in all circumstances…” Especially when I had a bad day he would quote 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Now as a mom I find myself repeating the same phrases to my three little ones. “Lean over,” I tell them repeatedly as I try to avoid the inevitable cascade of crumbs falling on the floor at meal time. “Hustle your bustle,” rolls off my tongue as I desperately try to get them out the door on time. I tell them every morning, “Remember who you belong to!” as I try my best to give them a sense of belonging in our family and even more importantly, belonging in Christ.
But if I am honest, the “…give thanks in all circumstances…” is the hardest to repeat to my kids because it is the hardest to do in my own life. It’s far easier to complain about my circumstances and bare gifts as if they are burdens, than to rejoice in the good that God is doing for me and in me. But as my dad would remind me, the verse from 1 Thessalonians is not a casual suggestion, it is a command. And he would explain, we don’t have to be thankful for the bad things that happen in life, but we must be thankful in the circumstances of life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So as a mom, if I want kids who are joyful and thankful (every mom’s dream, right??) I have to model as well as admonish, “…give thanks in all circumstances…”
My son Isaiah (10) came home from school one day and told me some kids in his class were making fun of Jesus. He was in tears as he told me the story. At first I struggled with how to talk through the situation with him, and then I remembered my dad’s words. I explained to Isaiah that even though it makes us sad that the kids were laughing at Jesus, I was thankful that God was teaching him to be bold in his faith and share Jesus’ love.
So this Holiday Season, I am redoubling my efforts to give thanks in all things…even when we are driving to the ER with broken bones, when I feel crushed by the weight of my to-do list (endless laundry, cleaning, work, kids’ homework, social calendar, making dinners, etc.), and when everything seems to break at once (like my washing machine, roof, refrigerator, and coffee pot). God heals broken bones, He gives strength to the weary, and He provides for our needs! My hope and prayer is that I can teach my kids to see how God is working in our circumstances so that they will be full of joy and thanksgiving.