In the 1960’s movie, “Shenandoah,” Jimmy Stewart plays the father of a large southern family who settled the land and built his life together with his wife and children. When the movie starts we see that the mother of the ten or so children have passed away. They all come to sit down together for dinner and Jimmy tells everyone to be quiet so they can honor their mother’s last wishes about saying dinner grace together at meals. He prays, (words to this effect) “We thank you for this food even though we’ve cleared the land ourselves without your help. We cut every tree and moved every rock and calved every animal and did it all ourselves, but we say thank you anyway.” His tone and mood is obviously one of condescension and disbelief. He prays only because he promised his dead wife that he would. He’s a self made man and he did what he did without any help from God. Civil war breaks out! He sons, one by one, become involved in the war on one side or another. The soldiers from both side confiscate his crops and cattle. He gets word of the death of his sons and the youngest one runs off to join up also. The movie is about this father seeking out and bringing home this lost son. At the end of the movie there are very few at the dinner table; the youngest son, two daughters and the father. And he begins the same prayer, but breaks down and weeps. The lesson for us all is that the things that matter most in life are things that are truly out of our control. The blessings of God should never be taken for granted or seen as something we have earned or deserve.

Like Jimmy Steward many of us today have lost the attitude of gratitude and have allowed the economic system to confuse us regarding the true source of our wealth and welfare. We think we have what we have because we somehow have earned it and deserve it. The truth hasn’t changed. The most important things in life are still out of our control and we should never forget the great provide and sustainer of us all.

David Jeremiah writes, “Although it is possible for us to ritually bow our heads before we eat and not be grateful people, there is something about thanking God over three meals a day that reminds us we are not responsible personally for all we have. We owe our allegiance to God. The Bible speaks very strongly to the Christian about the importance of thanksgiving. In fact, it very carefully links the spirit of gratitude with the victorious Christian life.”

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 2:14