Every good and perfect gift
James 1:16-17 NKJV
 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. …
At the turning of the year, as people start assembling their lists of greatest this or that from the year previous and their hopes and aspirations for the year to come, I’m challenged to list the gifts God has given me. The question in front of me is to think of the gifts, to ask myself how often I am thankful to God for them, and to ponder why we tend to forget that these blessings come from God and what we can do to remember that more frequently.
In this past year, the attitude of the world is that what we’ve been given is pain and distrust and discord. Those are certainly not gifts from God. They are not good or perfect. It’s so simple to turn away from what is good and dwell on what is bad. So, yes, it is a challenge to list the good gifts, especially when your life just seems to continue on the same as it ever was. I didn’t get a new job or a new car or a new boyfriend or get married or have children, all the things that people like to crow about.
I’ve worked consistently at my job now for four years. But I have been given new and interesting things to do. That’s a gift, I think, to allow me to use my mind and talents. How bored I might be elsewhere. I didn’t get a new car, but God put me in a position that let me help a family member get hers, just like someone once helped me. No, no relationship developed in the past year, but my family still grew as my brother and his wife became foster parents. Those two kids are surely gifts, allowing us to open our hearts to all the joy and trouble that comes along.
And there are other gifts: the mission trip I went on, the vacation I took, the people I met, a warm home, the sunsets and occasional sunrise, the stars, the very smell of my environment when I step outside that fills me with joy or longing or nostalgia, the ability to breath and move and generally do as I wish. The freedom I have to worship my God. Music. Writing. Creating. Thinking clearly. My father who supports me in so many ways. My mother, with her challenges. There, is that five minutes? Barely touching on all the things God has given me.
But how often am I thankful to God for them? A month ago we celebrated Thanksgiving. My question is usually, “Who exactly are we thankful to?” So many people have no idea, just this general gratefulness. People miss the person we should thank. I know who he is and still miss the opportunities to thank him. Sure, we say a prayer before a meal. I thank him generally when I pray, but I don’t thank him enough. I don’t even recognize the gifts if I’m not thinking that way.
Why do we forget that these blessings come from God? Because we have so much, I think is part of it. If we were truly waiting on God for our daily bread, I think we would be so much more aware of what we got. The blessings, so many, come so often that we come to expect them as our right. Or think that we earned them ourselves.
So, what can we do to remember more frequently to thank God? I don’t know. We could ask him to remind us, but that sounds an awful lot like asking him to develop patience, which I’ve learned you really need to mean because he’ll do it. Anything else, however, sounds a lot like a New Year’s resolution, a habit to form. We are supposed to have an attitude of thankfulness. I’m not sure how one develops an attitude without exercising it. Starting with counting your blessings, as the old song says, is a good practice.