Do you ever feel like, as a parent, you are running your own private family Uber? The kids call or text, and you pick them up from practice. You drive them to events, to their friends’ houses, and all over. Or did you ever get a call like this: “Dad, practice finished early, so can you pick me up, and can you also drive ____ (friend #1) and ____ (friend #2) to their homes?” I don’t say this out loud in response to my kid, and maybe I should, but I’m thinking, “Why don’t those kids call their parents?” Probably because their parents are at work, and can’t leave, whereas I have a flexible schedule. So I tend to be the go-to driver. Last summer I drove my daughter and three of her friends for a day trip to the beach two and a half hours away. If I’m honest, the parental Uber can get to be a drag in my selfish moments, and I can long for the day when my kids get their driver’s licenses. But there is one thing that can transform my attitude about all the chauffeuring. You know what it is?
Gratitude. When my kids and their friends say “thank you” for the lift. One of my daughter’s friends says “thank you” when she gets in the car at the beginning of the ride, and when she gets out at the end of the ride. That’s meaningful, and it makes it hard for me to be grumpy.
As we continue our study through Colossians 4:2-6, looking at two marks of a healthy church family, we’ve been focusing on the first, the practice of prayer. Next in verse 2, Paul says we should practice thankful prayer. That means taking time to thank God for who he is, for what he has done, for his promises, for answered prayer. Thankfulness is transformative. It helps us remember, especially when we are in difficult times, that there is more to the story. The difficulty, the pain is not the end of the story. When we spend time actually saying or writing words of thankfulness, our hearts and minds are changed, realizing the truth about the world, that God is love, that God is good, that he cares for us.
I would encourage you to add a practice of thanksgiving in your prayer. Thank God for meals, for the day, but beyond that maybe keep a journal where each day you write five things you are thankful for. Nothing is too mundane to be thankful for. If you love to start your day with coffee, thank God for creating coffee plants. Thank him for the farmers who grow the plants. Thank him for the person who roasted your beans. I sometimes go to bed thinking about how wonderful it will be, when I wake up the next morning, that I get to drink coffee. Thank God for that. Then allow our gratefulness to go even deeper. Go on a thought path of gratefulness. Think about it: Who first discovered you could roast and grind coffee beans, then pour hot water over them, and you get a delicious drink with caffeine? Thank God for them! What else can you thank God for? There is so much we can be thankful for, including difficult times, because of how beneficial they often are to us.
When we are thankful, God helps us reset our lives on what is true, what is good, what is right, and that shapes us.