This is the long weekend where we connect and celebrate together, turning our hearts to thankfulness. There is a remarkable power in appreciation. It is a superpower that changes things.
When we are thankful, it helps us build resilience and keep moving forward on the marathon of life. When people are travelling through a turbulent time, I encourage them to not only focus on the struggle but also focus on three things to be grateful for. Pessimistic homosapiens always seem to be drawn towards negativity.
Where is our next crisis? We must force ourselves to speak out thanksgivings and utter prose of gratefulness.
Part of the joy of Thanksgiving is teaching our children to be thankful, and currently, this lesson is so important with the apparent pain of the pandemic.
Our home is hectic, with four children in their teens and early twenties. Their friends circle our tiny solar system, dropping in and out like extraordinary comets. Hospitality is a great gift to offer, and teenagers gaze into the magical light of the open fridge, looking for the perfect sweet or savoury delight.
It is as if that fridge is the mystical wardrobe of Narnia, ready to transport them to somewhere new and different. The conversations from those same teens describe frustration, pain and difficulty they have experienced through the months of change.
Teens, in general, are feeling blue.
My observations from conversations around the fridge were confirmed when I read the UNICEF report that one in five 15-24-year olds often feel depressed. UNICEF looked at 21 countries for the report. Depression that the endless lockdowns have caused, school closures, fear of parents losing their jobs, with many feeling afraid and angry.
The report highlighted that 13% of 10-19-year-olds, 89 million boys and 77 million girls, will live with a mental health disorder. Suicide is the fourth most common cause of death for 15-to 19-year-olds. The report is grim reading, it is surprising that more people aren't talking about it. I'm a parent, so I must keep listening, supporting and help to stabilize our children, coaching them to think through the lens of thankfulness. Churches have a role to play. We must fight to keep those social spaces open for our youth — to gather, chat and listen. There is still power over foosball tables in our worn-out youth rooms. Maybe reading this, you wonder what you can do.
Let’s open our lives to the young, support them and, yes, open our fridges — food always helps. Encourage those you spend time with to focus on thankfulness. I also believe that prayer changes things; let's keep praying for the next generation.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Phil Collins is pastor at Willow Park Church in Kelowna.