Creating a Thankful Heart

Give thanks

I recently read a story about a man who rescued many people from a freezing lake after their ship had suffered a puncture.  He dove in the icy waters again and again, rescuing victim after victim.  His heroic efforts cost him his own health, forcing him to use a wheel chair for most of his life after the rescues.  Years later, someone asked him what he remembered most about that time.  “Not one person thanked me for saving them.”

My jaw dropped when I read that!  I would imagine that any person would be so overwhelmed with gratitude that they would tell him how grateful they were!  It reminded me of the ten lepers Jesus healed, and that only one returned to give thanks.

It makes me take a look at my own life and wonder if I have gratitude for all God has done for me.  As parents, don’t we desire that our children are thankful?  We say things to them like,

“Tell the nice man thank you for the sticker.”

“What do you say for the candy?”

“Say thank you to your sister for sharing her toys with you.”

We say these things in hopes that they’ll develop  gratitude, but how do we create in them a thankful heart?  Let me suggest:

  1. Model a thankful spirit.  Saying things such as, “I’m so thankful for a beautiful day for our picnic!” Or “”I prayed about that and God answered!  I’m so thankful He hears me!”  Colossians 3:15 As a friend of mine shared yesterday, we should also be thankful for the rainy days, the plans that were changed, or the needs that arise.  From a thankful heart we can say, “God knows what is best, and I’m thankful I can trust in Him for this.”
  2. Remind your children of God’s goodness.  Remind them that everything we have is from God.  James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.  Remind them to thank the Lord for the food, the new friend, the good friend at church, the money to purchase new jeans, and the birthday gifts because they are all due to His goodness – not anything we did or deserve.

  3. Point them to thank the people God uses to provide and teach them how to tell them thank you.

    I recently sent some cake home with a friend at church.  The very next service I received a note from each of the school-aged children.  They both wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed it and to say thank you!

    Don’t let a flippant “thanks” be enough – teach your child to say thank you verbally, but also to write their thanks.  The notes I received were great reminders of what a note of thanks should contain:

    1. A brief but specific description of what was done/given.
    2. Why the receiver appreciated it.
    3. Thanks for their kindness.
    4. If you want to go the extra mile, they could add a verse that describes what the giver did!  One of my note writers added a verse to their card, and that was really touching!

Let’s have thankful hearts that our children can emulate.  As followers of Jesus, we were saved from far more than icy waters, and we should have thankful spirits that are evident by our words and actions!

With thanks to you for reading today,

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4 thoughts on “Creating a Thankful Heart”

  1. Oh Denise, how sad!! I think that so many people feel a sense of entitlement today that they have forgotten how to be thankful. I taught my children to write notes when they were small and I try to teach my grands as well. All of my friends are so sweet to take the time to write a note for every little gift etc. It is a good thing to practice gratitude.

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  2. I have been reminded several times in the past couple of weeks about the power of a hand written note. I think the Lord is telling me to stop thinking about it and DO IT!! Thanks for one more reminder! 🙂

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