Psalm 118:24 – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (NRSV)
When my son was younger and it was his turn to say grace, he would invariably use the same one: "Dear God, thank you for this food and a beautiful day." Week in, week out, regardless of the weather, the meal, or the events of the day, it would be "Dear God, thank you for this food and a beautiful day." I would often be a bit annoyed and disappointed with what I perceived to be the intellectual laziness with which he approached this duty. One day it was his turn to say grace for dinner on a Scout campout. After a bit of hemming and hawing and trying to get someone else to say it for him, he dutifully recited the tried and true: "Dear God, thank you for this food and a beautiful day." The phrases provoked a cynical chuckle or two, since the day had been anything but beautiful — the weather was cold and wet ("Troop 860 weather" as the boys describe it), the planned activities had not gone well, and the dinner itself was not quite up to expectations.
However, as I stood there listening to the chuckles and comments die down, I realized that we did indeed have so much to be thankful for. The rain, however annoying, was a welcomed interruption to the drought that had been plaguing us for the last month or so. We were all more or less dry and warm. We had plenty to eat, and would soon be going home to comfortable houses, warm showers and families. If the programme hadn't gone off as planned, the boys had still had a good time and we did have the very real pleasure of each other's company. There had been no telephones or faxes demanding immediate response to deal with. We didn't have to worry about pillaging armies, hunger, plague and pestilence, or any of the other catastrophes that seemed to be the staple of much of Israel's existence in the Scriptures, and which still afflict so much of today's world. All in all, it had been a beautiful day.
Intentionally or not, my son had reminded me of just how much the Lord had blessed us and how much we had to be thankful for, instead of complaining about. As the years go by, I often find myself silently saying the same blessing, "Dear God, thank you for this food and a beautiful day", as a reminder to myself of all that I have to be thankful for, regardless of the day's trials and tribulations.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, help us to see beyond our petty concerns and discomforts, so that we may be aware of and appreciate the great blessings you have bestowed upon us: blessings we too often take for granted, instead giving thanks to you. Amen.