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Keith Wishum: What do you say?

“What do you say?” The young mom’s voice rose to high note and split that last word into two sing-song syllables. This was a familiar tune, one her own mother taught her years before whenever a “thank you” was expected.
He wasn’t saying anything. Not with words anyway. The cherub-faced toddler in the new rolled up jeans and Builder Dan sweatshirt dropped his eyes to the floor. His head swayed ever so slightly from side to side. He was silently saying, “No,” afraid to say it too forcefully. He’d heard this song before, too. He knew what was expected. He just didn’t want to say it.
Our little warrior lost his battle. Mom persisted. His defenses crumbled and the words were mumbled. A soft “thank you” stumbled through his quivering lips.
Was it worth it? If he didn’t mean it, what good was this “thank you” for the compliment he had received on how cute he looked in his new outfit?
This mom understood that a thanks giving often precedes a thanks feeling. Have you ever noticed that the Bible never requires thanks feeling? It doesn’t say, “Feel thanks to the Lord,” just that we are to give thanks. You might notice: We have Thanksgiving Day, not Thanksfeeling Day.
Feelings come and go. They are as fickle as frost. We mistakenly think we should express gratitude only when we feel it. The problem is that we may not feel it unless we first express it. Stopping to give thanks to God for all we have is the best way for us to remind ourselves of the thousands of simple gifts we receive from him. And it’s the best way to feel gratitude. Otherwise we take our gifts for granted.
When did you last feel grateful to be alive? To have some degree of health? To have air to breathe? Eyes with which to see? Most likely, you felt thankful for those things only if you paused first to express thanks.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,” we are told (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Not when we feel like it, but continually — in all situations, good and bad. Give thanks whether you feel like it or not.
Go ahead. Give it a try. Your mom would be proud. And your Father will be honored. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Psalm 106:1)
What do you say?

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.