by Emily Conrad

A handful of red and orange leaves are still blowing around the neighborhood. I collected a few on my last walk and set them in the crook at the base of the big maple out front, finding in the process that it had some lovely green moss to add to the picture.

The display of color made me wonder: Has frost deepened the colors of these leaves? Or were there entire trees full of reds and oranges like these just a month ago? Did I miss just how marvelously the burgundy and orange red glowed because they were everywhere?

Lifting my eyes even now proves that there’s still stunning color on a few trees, suggesting that I’m only just now, as I lose it, coming to better appreciate something nature’s been gifting me with for an entire season.

I’ve seen this principle at work in other areas of life, too.

So often, it takes something negative to remind us of how good we have it. We don’t know what we have until something we love has a close call, or is at risk, fading, or gone. Near misses and scares remind us of how much we have to lose, how nothing is truly in our control, how very much we’ve taken for granted. In those times, we cling to gratitude to the One who’s given us everything.

Thank you, God, for sparing us. for this amazing life on earth, for the wonderful promises You’ve made for eternity.

That depth of gratitude is hard to keep in the long term. We move on into better times and forget how fragile life is and how much we depend on God.

This ungratefulness and forgetfulness were a danger to the Israelites, too.

When you eat your fill, when you build and occupy good houses, when your cattle and flocks increase, when you have plenty of silver and gold, and when you have abundance of everything, be sure you do not feel self-important and forget the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, the place of slavery Deuteronomy 8:12-14, NET  

Eat your fill? How many of us will do that today? How many of us are occupying good houses? Have savings? Have abundance?

And so often, we don’t even realize what privileges these are. We complain. We forget God. We credit our lifestyles and blessings to our own hard work.

Thank God for Thanksgiving! Because in good times like these, we cannot let our expressions of gratitude wane. The practice of thankfulness points us back to the One who gave us the blessings in the first place. Thankfulness helps keep us from becoming self-important, self-reliant, or reliant on the blessings themselves.