Yes, Thanksgiving was more than two weeks ago, but I still want to stop and say thank you to God. It’s so easy to cruise through my days focusing on things like how busy I am, how hard life is, what I need to do and am not doing, how much I wish things were perfect, or any number of other things.

How much better it is to stop looking at the challenges and focus on what’s good and right. Jesus talked about this: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Paul talked about it over and over. Here’s one instance: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” And David spent a lot of time singing about it. Here’s just one of many things he wrote: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

One helpful way I have been inspired toward thankfulness is thinking about those I know whose circumstances are much more challenging than what I face – and see how much better they are at being thankful than I am. I don’t do this to give myself a guilt trip but rather to remember all that I have to be thankful for.

One of my favorite stories happened when I lived in Nairobi, Kenya. My friend Benedicto invited us to join him for church in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest poor neighborhoods. After the service, we went to his one-room home to enjoy some warm Cokes together. A few of the pastors joined us. One said, “We know that our surroundings are not the best, but we are so thankful for all God has given us!” I will never forget that.

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

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