In my hometown, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we usually have two kinds of meals. We have what we call “bon repas” in French which means “nice meal” in English. We also have what we call “repas ya pamba” (in Lingala, one of the four national languages spoken in the country) or “junk meal”. Bon repas consists of “fufu” plus any kind of meat or fufu with any kind of fish. Fufu is the main food in the Congo. It is made out of corn mill mixed with cassava flour. People of my hometown love bon repas (nice food). However, it is difficult for many to have nice food on the table each day. Most people eat bon repas only once or twice a month. Why? Because it is expensive. Sometimes, they only have bon repas on the table on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, when they have special family events or when they have guests in the house. Repas ya pamba (junk meal) consists only of fufu plus any kind of vegetables. No meat or fish on the table. People do not like repas ya pamamba” (junk meal).
I remember when I was young, we used to pray and give thanks to God before we ate. One day, we had a repas ya pamamba meal on the table and I asked my younger brother to pray and give thanks. My brother was mad and said to me, “I am not praying, because you only ask me to pray and give thanks when we have repas ya pamamba on the table. When we have bon repas (nice meal) on the table you don’t ask me to pray, you do it yourself. I am not going to pray and give thanks today.”
After a while, I did pray in his place and gave thanks for the food. I realized that my brother was wrong. He was wrong for thinking that he should only give thanks when we have bon repas on the table. He complained about the food on the table not being nice, forgetting about the blessing of being alive. What about the life and joy given to us by God? What about the corn mill, the cassava flour and the vegetables?
The Bible says, “In everything, give thanks because this is the will of God for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18). We do not need to look for big and nice things to be grateful. We have to be thankful even for the little things we have received from God. As Christ followers, we have infinite reasons to be thankful. We have to shift our eyes away from the things we dislike in life and focus on the truths that we are saved, sanctified, sealed and sustained by the blood of Jesus on the cross. When we focus on Him, no matter what happens, thanksgiving will flow freely all day. We must be thankful for the small things in life, not just the big things.
Let us make this our habit, a reality in our day-to-day lives. Being thankful is among the best ways to stay positive throughout our day. Let us not be thankful for only the big things, but also for small things like our sense of hearing, our sense of sight, for the chair that we are sitting on, for the air we breathe, and so on. If we are so busy looking for things we do not have or do not like, we forget about the blessings already given to us. We should be grateful for ALL things. Let us ask God to grant that our life may give Him glory and praise, even when life is not going as we would like.