It had not been a great day and I wasn’t expecting things to get better. And, this was not even my regular class. I had volunteered to help out with the younger class on Wednesday nights for a few weeks, and even though I love this age group, that night I was not feeling it.
Have you ever dragged yourself into class and literally needed to hide in the nearest bathroom for a minute or two just to plaster a less-than-genuine smile on your face before facing your kids? Have you ever consciously gone into a class to teach children about something you were personally struggling with at that very moment? Talk about feeling like a big phony! That was me on that particular night.
In Everything Give Thanks…
Tonight I was going to be teaching the children about Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks in Everything. How had I spent my day? Not in thanksgiving. My brain had been rattled with an onslaught of complaining, discontentment and anger. But here I was ready to share 1 Thessalonians 5:18… “In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I plastered my smile on my face and went into “teacher mode.” I had made up my mind to just soldier through, get it done, and get home so I could mope around some more. The children were coloring their turkeys, and my helper and I assisted them with writing out what they were thankful for on the turkey’s feathers.
“What are you thankful for?” I asked the first child. We write the answers and glue the feathers. “What are you thankful for?” I asked the next child. We write the answers and glue the feathers.
One more time, “What are you thankful for?” No answer. I look at the little boy, who is a regular in my Sunday School class on Sunday mornings but usually doesn’t come on Wednesday nights. In fact, this was the first time he had ever come on Wednesday night. “What are you thankful for?” I ask again, and he drops his head.
How Things Changed
I start suggesting things to write down. “How about your toys?” He shakes his head. “How about your house?” He shakes his head. I sigh, “Ok, how about I come back to you later?” I start to move on to the next child.
“You!” he pokes me in the arm. I look back, not understanding.
“What, Sweetie?” I ask.
“You,” he says again and points to his feather. “Write down ‘you.’”
“You’re thankful for me?” I ask a little stunned.
He nods his head fiercely. I write my name on his thankful turkey feather. The smile I’m wearing now isn’t plastered on, it’s real!
In a split second God took that little boy’s gratitude and turned it into real joy in my rattled heart. That’s how thanksgiving works. It is the best kind of contagious. You show gratitude, joy springs up, and more gratitude grows.
Although at this time of year our minds are often focused on Thanksgiving (the holiday), we need to ask ourselves if our hearts are really focused on giving thanks, not only to God, but also to the people around us.
Sometimes all it takes to be an encouragement to someone is just to show thanks for what they’re doing, how hard they are trying, or just for who they are. It can take just a moment to change someone’s entire day with contagious thanksgiving.
You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.