Have you ever felt unappreciated?  Do you feel as if you give 110% to your job, your family, and other activities, only to feel as if you haven’t done enough?  Is there ever a time when you just wish someone would say, “thank you?”  Even in the times when you feel unappreciated, remember that God sees everything you do, whether big or small.  He loves you.  He thinks you are amazing.  And He loves when you do something for His honor and glory.  Even if you may not receive an audible thank you, God is wrapping His arms of love around you to show you just how important you are to Him.  And sometimes, He may even use a relative, friend, or coworker to pass along that unforeseen “thank you” for which you have been desiring so long.  God is truly the Creator of gratitude.

This afternoon, I received an unexpected e-mail from a colleague.  Inside, I found an unanticipated “thank you.”  They were expressing their appreciation to me for making a difference in the lives of my students.  They said that I had been an inspiration.  As I sat at my computer, I recalled the real reason I became a teacher: to make a difference in the lives of my students.  Every day, I pray that I will have a positive impact on their lives.  I strive to be their teacher, their mentor, and their friend.  There are times, though, when I wonder if I am truly making a difference.  Do my students really listen to the life lessons I share with them?  Does it matter if I have well-constructed lesson plans?  Do people really appreciate the valiant effort I put forth?  And then, an e-mail like the one I received today comes along to reassure me that yes, I am appreciated.  How special to know that someone noticed what I have been doing for five years.  To think that they actually took the time to thank me for going the extra mile to make the difference in the life of a child.  Wow.  I thank God for sending this e-mail my way.  He always knows what I need, even before it enters into my mind.

While it is always nice to receive gratitude, it is equally exciting to share appreciation with others.  When you sit down for a nice meal at a restaurant or even at home, do you thank the person who serves the meal or the chef who prepares it?  Do you thank the cashier in the check-out lane at Wal-Mart, or the one who held the door open for you at the bank?  Did you remember to thank the person who carried your groceries to your car for you, or the secretary on the telephone who put you right through to the person whom you were trying to reach?  Every single day, we are given opportunities to express gratitude to others.  Whether they are strangers or friends, I am sure they experience the same feelings that we do at times: overworked and unappreciated.  Wouldn’t you like to be a part of something really big?  It’s quite simple.  One simple “thank you” could literally make someone’s day.  Or it might even change their life.  To know we are appreciated means to know we are loved.  And to know we are loved means we have a reason to get up in the morning, go to work or school, and simply put, to live according to the dream that God has for our life.

Even Jesus gave thanks to God, His Father, on many occasions.  He understood how important it was to show His gratefulness to His Father, and He gives us a wonderful example to emulate.  In Matthew 11:25 (ESV), we read, “At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.’”  Jesus wanted His Father to know that He appreciated the things that were given to Him, so He thanked Him always.  He also taught His disciples to be grateful by modeling a life of gratitude.  For instance, He taught them to give thanks for their food.  Matthew 26:26 (NIV) says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples.”  According to this scripture, they did not eat until after the blessing had been given.  When partaking in a meal, giving thanks to the Lord was the number one priority among Jesus and His disciples.  Do you thank the Lord for the food He provides?  Are there ways you can follow Christ’s example, showing gratefulness to the Lord in your daily life?

You may wonder, how often should I thank someone?  Will they think that I am simply saying “thank you” because of lack of knowing what to say?  The Bible offers advice in this area as well.  I Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  So, should we only give thanks for our food?  Or to someone who helps us?  Or to a friend who offered encouragement to us?  No.  It is God’s desire that we should give thanks “in all circumstances.”  Notice this scripture does not say to give thanks sometimes, but it says to give thanks always.  This doesn’t mean we should thank God that our car was totaled, a loved one is sick, or that we lost our job.  Instead, we should be thankful to God for the blessings we have.  God will then bless us, restoring our lives according to His perfect will.
So, the next time you feel unappreciated, look around.  God may be sending an angel in disguise your way with a small token of their appreciation.  It could arrive in an e-mail, or it could be in the form of a phone call, a hug, or even a smile.  And while you are enjoying the new-found joys of feeling appreciated, remember to pay it forward.  Say “thank you” more often.  Shake someone’s hand.  Give someone a handwritten note telling them just how much you appreciate their friendship.  Most importantly, thank the Lord for allowing you to feel appreciated and giving you the opportunity to allow someone else to feel special as well.  Psalm 118:1 (NIV) calls us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Tomorrow morning when you awaken, thank the Lord for His many blessings.  Through this expression of gratitude, you will be reminded just how much Jesus loves you.  Not only that, but you will have the opportunity to have a personal conversation with the giver of hope, the giver of peace, and the giver of life.  How can anyone be ungrateful for such a precious gift?  God gave His only Son.  Doesn’t that just make you want to spread gratitude for the love of Jesus to everyone you meet?

In closing, I would like to show my appreciation to you for reading my blog by leaving you with this scripture: “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” (Philemon 1:4 NIV).

In Christ’s Love,