About four years ago, as I was reading about obscure rock bands whose influence far outweighed their history , I came across a band I had never heard about from Minneapolis, a city I have never yet visited. The band, long since dissolved after an unsuccessful attempt at major label stardom, called itself Husker Du (there’s an umlaut or two I’m missing there), from the Scandinavian children’s game of the same name, which means, “do you remember?” From what I can tell, the game is still somewhat popular (although admittedly, children’s games are not a personal area of expertise), and it is memory, at least one specific aspect of it, that I would like to briefly examine today before I have to run off to conduct my usual hurried affairs as is often the case in my life.
Do we remember to give thanks for what we have? I have always thought myself to be particularly poorly off, but there is much I have to be thankful for. Yesterday, our pastor gave a sermon on gratitude, and happened to pick a salary that was very close to my own, and which made me richer than 99% of the world, even though I do not consider myself particularly well off at all. When we spend our lives comparing ourselves (often unwittingly) with those whose life has gone better than our own, it is hard to recognize that we really have it good. Although I have to budget my expenses and keep a close eye on finances, I can generally go where I want and eat what I want when I want, and be able to do small favors for others without having to stay up all night stressing out about how I am going to pay for it. I certainly live a somewhat austere life in terms of physical possessions, but that is more because of my own insecurities than about the means I have for obtaining them if I felt at home and firmly rooted somewhere.
Do I remember to give thanks for what has been given to me? I know, and so does everybody else, that I do not have all I want in this life, and it is at least able to be doubted whether I have all that I need, at least in some non-material areas, but that which I do have I am grateful for, and I hope it is expressed often enough that others do not feel taken advantage of. I am always appreciative of good service at restaurants, because as a single man who as part of a group that is thought to be ungenerous and stingy is often treated poorly with that expectation. I would hope that I am grateful when people feel able to communicate freely (and kindly) with me. There is much to be grateful for, from a beautiful view to simple kindness and politeness to the sometimes extravagant gifts that we receive in this life. Even with all of our frustrations, we all have much to be thankful for.
It is for this reason that the Bible speaks about giving thanks so often. In his closing exhortation to the brethren of Thessalonika, in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-17, the Apostle Paul says the following: “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Even if we would rather not be exhorted to give thanks, let us remember to do so anyway, for where we are not grateful for what we have, we may often find ourselves without that which we do not appreciate, and appreciation is a lot cheaper than longing.
 See, for example: