“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV)
When our children were young, they were always excited to get new clothes. They were especially glad when their dad would say, “Let’s see how fast those new shoes can run!” If they got a new outfit, he would say, “Let’s see if those new clothes are snuggly!” They would demonstrate their shoes running as fast as they could and end up hugging their dad and saying, “Thank you, Dad!” They would snuggle him real tight in their new clothes and say, “Thank you, Dad.” Of course, Dad would beam and grin from ear to ear knowing that the children were truly grateful for their new things and probably even more grateful for their dad!
God wants gratitude to be real to Him just as the gratitude our children showed their dad was real. Why is it difficult for our children to express real gratitude to God? Could it be that God is not real to them. Perhaps they don’t realize that God is the source of all we have. Have they not been taught to be grateful for what they have?
If all children were taught to say, “Thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “Please”, and “Excuse me”, the world would be very different! Parents should teach children, even as toddlers, to say, “Thank you”. As a toddler, they can begin to understand the importance of saying thanks, even if they don’t understand the reason. As they continue to grow, they can be taught the why of saying it. As they grow older, they need to learn to say it to God.
Until God becomes real to a child, the child cannot truly understand how to thank Him. Many parents work hard to teach children to believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny but don’t teach them to believe in God! After all, the belief in God determines their eternal home! If God does become real to a child, the child can be taught that God created all things, and that we have Him to thank for all we have.
When children have to earn money for some of their own things, they can understand the earthly effort that goes into providing the things God has made. It is a good idea to take children to work with parents to let them see first hand what is done to provide for them. Children who are always given what they want, with no effort on their own part, find it hard to be truly grateful. It seems to be a law of nature that those who have had to do without are more appreciative of what they get. In such cases, it is helpful to give the children experiences in seeing and helping those who are in greater need than themselves.
Just as my husband felt pleased when our children told him thanks, I’m sure God feels very pleased when His children come to Him expressing sincere gratitude for what He has provided! Let’s help our children to be truly grateful!