We can praise and thank God for everything from good weather for the family picnic to recovery from a serious surgery. But have you ever thought about giving thanks for what you don’t have—“thanks for nothing,” as author Jessica Shaver phrases it?
“I’m grateful that for years now I haven’t lost my contact lenses in rain-swollen gutters or in bowls of hot noodles. And I’m thankful that the phone call in the middle of the night was the wrong number and not someone calling to tell us about a death in the family.” (Jessica Shaver, “Thanks for Nothing,” The Christian Communicator, November 1996, 15.)
The list of things we don’t have or that didn’t happen might easily outnumber the list of things we do have and that did happen—if we stop and notice. Arnold, who wears Coke-bottle-thick glasses, says he’s thankful he’s not blind. Julie is grateful she didn’t have a clothes dryer while living in Morocco because it forced her to hang her clothes outdoors, get acquainted with neighbors, and watch her children play in the courtyard, all at the same time.
Seventy-year-old Lou, a retired mail carrier, gives thanks for never owning a car. His job required he walk every day. “I stayed fit, kept my tan all year, saw neighbors and friends every day, and got paid to do it!”
Mrs. McNaughton, a 102-year-old resident in a nursing home, says she thanks God she’s deaf. She can read her Bible and other books without the distraction of outside noises!
Maureen is grateful her kitchen didn’t blow up when she left a pot of soup simmering on the stove while she went for a morning walk… and to the post office… and to the grocery store… before realizing what she had done!
Hector said he thanks God for all the colds he didn’t catch, the car accidents he didn’t get into because of driving too fast or too slow, and the debt he avoided by deciding not to buy a new car and computer.
I thank God for all the things He has not given me—like a huge estate on five acres of land. Too much cleaning and gardening! And too many servants to keep track of. I praise God I am short instead of tall. Store clerks can reach the high shelves for me, and my cleaning helper takes care of the cobwebs in the high corners.
And I give thanks for not being a genius, a celebrity, a professional ice skater, a country-western singer, an engineer, a concert pianist or a famous surgeon. God knows what we need and don’t need, and He always provides. We can thank Him for what we don’t have as well as for what we do have.
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust;
How about you? What are you grateful for that you don’t have?