“This is a danger inherent in professional ministry: ministers and other Christian leaders can come to look down on laypeople. Here we are reminded, however, that God honours those who realise that their ministry does not commend them before God or make them superior; rather, we are all the objects of his grace and mercy.”—Darrell Bock, on the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14)
The Bible gives a full list of large reasons to be thankful. God is thanked for his deliverance (Psalm 35:18), for loving us and being faithful (Psalm 52:9, 107:8), for safe arrival after a long, arduous journey (Acts 28:15), for other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Romans 1:8), for the gift of salvation that enables one not to sin (Romans 6:17), for delivering us from our tendency to sin (Romans 7:25), for the spiritual gift of being able to address God (1 Corinthians 14:18), for resurrection hope (1 Corinthians 15:57), for testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Corinthians 2:14), for the support of a colleague in ministry (2 Corinthians 8:16), for other believers (Philippians 1:3, Colossians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philemon 4), for those who respond to God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13), for being able to serve others for God (1 Timothy 1:12) and for his attributes (Revelation 4:9). Those are just some of the options for thanksgiving.
Notice that this list includes not one item having to do with things, with possessions. The occasions for gratitude all have to do with relationships or circumstances in relationship to others. Colossians 3:15 says to “be thankful”. That is what the foreigner was [in Luke 17:16]. That is what disciples are to be. Remember thank-yous, especially to our good, gracious and great God - and let the sun shine in.
Why are we so unhappy in the West, when we have so much?
Maybe it is because success and meaning are being defined in the wrong places by the wrong things. Life’s real blessings are not valued and appreciated, while things that cannot really bless are assigned value and worth they do not really possess. Often our families and friends and, more important, the God of life, are underappreciated, taken advantage of, or ignored - not necessarily to their detriment, but always to ours.