“Come sit right down and write these thank you cards right this minute!” my Mom insisted, “Just think of all the wonderful presents you got for your birthday. You need to thank these people!”
“Ugghhhhh,” I groaned loudly, “But I HATE writing thank-you cards! It takes FOR-EVER! And it’s pointless anyway,” I argued. “The people just read them and then throw them straight in the trash!”
“It is NOT pointless,” Mom said, “It is never pointless to appreciate someone. It is very important. It lets them know you are grateful. And besides, it is polite!”
“Well I don’t want to be polite!” I retorted back.
“Then you might also be a girl who doesn’t want another birthday party next year,” Mom shook her head sadly.
Oooooh, that burned me. I stomped to the table and began angrily writing out the ridiculous thank you cards. “Thank you so much for the red purse you gave me,” I wrote Corri. How silly. She already knew exactly what she bought me – why did I have to repeat it? “I really love it.” She already knows that too – because I said so! Right when I opened it! “It is so great…” my writing trailed off. What else was someone supposed to say? I couldn’t go on and on for a whole card length about one single purse! “Thank you for coming to my party,” I ended the letter, and signed my name.
One down. Twelve more to go.
Because I hated writing thank you cards so much as a kid, I grew up bound and determined that I would never, never, EVER force my kids to write a single one. And I didn’t, either. Birthdays, Christmases, Easters and events have gone by perfectly fine without any thank you cards at all. Being emphatically thankful in the moment has worked just fine. At times, a short thank-you text or a phone call has served to top it off nicely. To my knowledge, nobody in my life has ever complained or felt unappreciated due to the lack of a thank-you card. See? I was right all along! No thank you cards. No one needs them!
But recently, my Mom came to visit for her birthday. Toby, Brooke and Wyatt’s birthday had just happened as well, and Great Grandpa had sent each of them a $50 bill – wow!
“I hope you had the kids write thank you cards!” Mom said.
“I did nothing of the sort!” I gloated. “We called and thanked him just fine.”
Mom frowned, but said nothing. I didn’t think she’d bring it up again. But when I ran to the grocery store and left her with the kids, I came home to a small surprise. There sat my kids at the kitchen table, doing the unexpected, the unthinkable: they were writing thank you cards. And they seemed happy about it!
“Look Mommy!” Brooke exclaimed, “we made cards for Great Grandpa – see?! I even drew some pictures!”
“Yeah Mommy, read mine!” Toby insisted. “I told him all about the legos I bought with his money.”
I couldn’t decide if I was angry, touched, defeated in battle, or secretly a little bit surprised. But my biggest surprise was yet to come. When Great Grandpa received the thank you cards in the mail, he called especially to tell me how sweet they were and how much he loved them. “They really just made my day,” he said, “I put them up on the fridge, and every time I read them, they give me a little smile.” And when he said that part, my heart did something funny: it smiled too. And then I understood: thankfulness – real thankfulness – has the power to give us a special feeling that nothing else really can compare to. Thankfulness is a superpower!
Paul knew the power of thankfulness, too. That’s why he wrote about thankfulness a lot of different times in his letter to the Philippians. He knew that a thankful heart praising Jesus created a special formula for happiness. See if you can find the formula in Paul’s words: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” he writes in Phil. 4:4. “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch it? Paul is teaching that the secret for worried, anxious hearts is to add prayer and talking to Jesus, with asking for help, rejoicing, and thanksgiving. And when you add all these things together in your life, what do you get? You get a heart and mind that is guarded by peace – a peace that we can’t even understand! Talking to Jesus and thanking Him for our blessings creates a wall of protection around our hearts that guards us from all worries. Talk about a superpower! I think this is pretty cool, don’t you?
So the next time you feel anxious or worried about anything? Try to do what good old Paul recommends: rejoice, pray, ask for help, and tell Jesus thanks. This special spoken “thank-you letter” to God had the power to protect us from our worries and fears. I don’t think you have to write a thank-you card. But saying thank-you to God really is something special indeed. Try it out!
Family Talk Time:
- Does our family believe in thank-you cards? Why/why not? What is our family’s favorite way of saying thank you to someone?
- Read Phil4:4-7 together. Is it really possible to “not be anxious about anything” ? And what on earth does gentleness have to do with all of this?
- Let’s practice the special thank-you formula of Paul: let’s rejoice, pray, talk to Jesus, ask for His help with our problems, and then give Him lots of thanksgiving for our blessings. Can this formula REALLY give peace to guard our minds? How?
- Who can we thank this week in a special, creative new way?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we want our lives to be a thank-you card to you. We want to rejoice and thank you for all our blessings. We want to talk to you about our worries and our problems. Please give us that mysterious peace that guards our hearts and our minds from all anxieties. We love you Jesus! Thank you!! Amen.
- A formula for anxiety sounds great! Sign us up!! What are the anxieties hounding us this week?
- Why would prayer and praise be powerful enough to bring that “peace that passes understanding” ? How do they “guard our hearts” and our minds?
- What do our hearts and minds need to be guarded from right now? What thanks can we offer in faith, against those things?
- How can we use thanks and joy to guard our home and family with peace?