There was a reflection question in one of my spiritual reading books a few months ago that I have pondered off and on ever since. The author asked, “What would happen to you if God decided to take back all his gifts that you neglected to thank Him for?”
That is a sobering thought! Imagine if God made a declaration that He would give us a week to decide for what in our lives we want to thank Him and he would take back all his other gifts. Further imagine that God made it even more difficult and told us we had to limit our choices to 10 things. No doubt, whatever we would choose would tell us a lot about our values and what is really important to us.
As I reflect on this I guess the first thing I would give thanks for is the fundamental gift of life itself. It is so easy to take our lives for granted. That comes home to me every time I hear about a sudden or unexpected death, like a vivacious, fun-loving friend of mine who suddenly dropped dead recently. I could also have been aborted by my mother and never had a chance to live.
My family would also be included on my list. There are so many abandoned and abused children in the world. To have a loving and supportive family is truly a gift for which I am grateful. And as I write this I remind myself how important it is to express my gratitude to the members.
Another valued gift for me would be the family of Holy Cross. My religious vocation and my community are precious to me. I have been touched in numerous ways by my sisters. My vocation has also given me the opportunity to do many things and to serve many wonderful people. I guess this is part of the “hundredfold” that Jesus spoke about.
Friends would be high on my list. God has blessed me with special people in my life and I cannot imagine what it would be like not to be close to anyone. We all need intimacy no matter what walk of life. Without loving relationships we cannot fully develop.
My faith is also a valued gift. As I have written before, I cannot even begin to imagine what my life would be like if I did not believe in God. I would be overwhelmed by the troubles of our world if I did not trust and hope in Jesus. He is my rock and foundation. I can count on His love no matter what!
I am also grateful for my education and the many opportunities I have had, and continue to have, to develop my mind. The ability to learn is also part of this gift. Sometimes when we are young we don’t fully appreciate school but education is a very valuable gift that not everyone has — one that many waste or take for granted.
Life in a democracy and the freedoms that come with it is a gift I value. The United States has many flaws and is not the perfect society, but I’d never want to live anywhere else. Our country has been blessed and has a responsibility to share our abundance with others.
Another gift I cherish is the ability to serve others. I think of those who are out of work, have jobs that they hate or unable to work at all. For the most part I have loved every ministry I have ever been in. That is truly a gift to thank God for.
I would also thank God that I enjoy the basic necessities of life and more. There are millions around the world who lack food and shelter. When I was little I used to wonder what my life would be like if I were born in one of the poor countries of the world. Sometimes we can take for granted all that we have and forget that we really are a minority. The haves are fewer than the have-nots and ironically many are happier than we are.
Last, but not least, I would thank God for my health, the fact that I can see, hear, speak, talk, walk, etc. Every time I meet someone who is physically challenged I thank God and ask for the grace to bear whatever will happen to me in my life.
There are many other gifts that God has showered on me but I could live without them if I had to do so, but I would surely miss my top ten!
It is good to recall every now and then that all that we have comes from the generous love of our God and God deserves our thanks and praise. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to let God know what you appreciate in life. Thank Him often.
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