A Grateful Nation

Not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. —2 Timothy 1:9

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

Set aside as a national holiday, July 4th reminds us of the value of freedom. It’s unfortunate, really, that we would need to take a day off of work to be thankful for America, even if it is her birthday. When you think about everything we’ve been blessed with, gratitude should always be on the tips of our tongues. There aren’t enough days in an entire year to express how deep our gratitude should be.

“So what are you most thankful for today?”

There’s nothing wrong with the question, but if you’re not careful, your answer could backfire. If you say, “For the chance to live in a free country,” you run the risk of overstating the obvious. If your response includes something you can purchase, you’ll probably sound shallow. If it includes someone’s name, you run the risk of offending someone you didn’t think to mention. If it focuses on an opportunity, you might encounter some resentment from those who have been less fortunate. You could even give the safe answer, “I’m thankful for Jesus,” and still be criticized for trying to sound more spiritual than everyone else in the conversation.

The amazing thing about gratitude is that it’s even an option. Every time we say, “I am thankful for (fill in the blank)”—the object of the sentence is significant, but the miracle is in the verb. Rather than expose us to an eternity of regret and a neverending sense of abandonment, God stepped in and gave us something to be thankful for—grace. Before His grace, all we had was our work—and if those efforts could have accomplished what we'd hoped, at the very least, we could have been thankful to ourselves for ourselves. But that didn’t even work for us—any sense of achievement was always overshadowed by the overt sense of underachieving. But give us an “A” for effort—like good Pharisees, we never stopped trying.

When Grace unexpectedly blew into our lives, we didn’t just receive what we could never earn and would never deserve—we finally knew what it meant to be thankful for something. For anything. Actually, for everything.

America! America! God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

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