I cook a lot these days. That’s what happens when you are stuck at home and have four children who seem to have tapeworms in their bellies. The other day after cooking breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper my daughter, Delaney, asked for peas. It wasn’t a tall order, so I agreed. I pulled the peas from the freezer, pierced the bag with a fork, and hit a button on the microwave.
Minutes later, as the peas were delivered to my picky-eater, I mentally said the same prayer I always offer: for the love of God please like these. For good measure, I silently added: eat your peas. (I threw one more word in there but it’s not suitable for this article.) About 30 seconds later Delaney shouted from the couch, “WHO MADE THESE PEAS?!”
I braced for the worst. I started giving myself a pep-talk so I wouldn’t lose my mind when she declared she wouldn’t eat them. Breathe, Scott, just breathe, I thought. My wife, Kate, replied immediately and almost too eagerly, “Your dad did.” (I could tell from the tone of her voice she was glad I was on the hook and not her.) Delaney jumped from her seat and ran to the kitchen. She put her hands on her hips and looked up at me with a smirk. (The look in her eye resembled something like a tiger eyeing a bird before pouncing.) Then, she said, “Daddy, I declare: You have really outdone yourself!” For her own good measure, she added, “Thank you.”
We hugged. She ran away. And, I cried. Seriously, I cried.
People in our house cry a lot these days.
So much of our life right now is harder than it should be. All the bad things are magnified while all the good things are quelled. People are stressed out. There is so much confusion and uncertainty. People who are alone want roommates and people with roommates want to be left alone. It seems like everything has been disrupted except the expectations we have for others and place on ourselves.
Things are emotional and stressful. People are scared and frustrated. We’re all doing our best and yet sometimes it doesn’t seem like it is nearly enough.
I talked to one of the teachers in our congregation (not my wife) and she said a student emailed her a thank-you that brought tears to her eyes. One of our people has a daughter who still works in a grocery store (even though she’d rather not) because she knows how appreciative people are. One of our health care workers told me they go into the hospital because they know how grateful people are to walk out of the hospital.
There’s no denying the power of gratitude and thankfulness these days.
In 1 Thessalonians St. Paul writes:
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thes. 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, Paul writes. Most circumstances these days don’t easily lend themselves to thankfulness. Personally, I’m throwing way more pity-parties than thank-you jubilees. Yet, the scriptures do call on us to embody thankfulness and gratitude not just when it is easy and life is working out exactly as planned, but in all circumstances. Even now.
By sharing gratitude and appreciation we are putting some good out there in the world. We are encouraging each other and living the gospel. It might seem small and trivial, but it will bring tears to people’s eyes (the good kind). Your “thank-you”, as modest as it may seem, may carry the weight of the world for the people who need a bit of a boost to keep going. Moreover, it is good discipleship and stewardship. See, as disciples we aren’t just called to give money or to offer our time, we are called to share gratitude – to give thanks in all circumstances.
So, may I conclude: St. John Lutheran Church, dearest staff, beloved council, and my dear friends in the congregation, I declare: you have really outdone yourself. Thank you.
Now, go find the last person who made you peas.