INTRO: The Sunday School Teacher asked little Jimmy if he prayed every night. He said “No Maam. Some nights I don’t need nothing.”
We’re often better at “asking” in prayer than we are at “thanking”.
ILLUSTRATION: A man dreamed he went to heaven and Peter gave him the tour. The first room they stopped at was large and full of bustling activity with angels flitting to and fro. The man asked “What’s going on?” Peter answered “This is RECEIVING where all the prayer requests come in, get processed by angels and forwarded to God.” Then they walked to the next room which was also large, and busy with angels. “What’s this room?” asked the newcomer. Peter answered “This is SHIPPING, where all of the answers and blessings are prepared and shipped out.” Then they came to a third room that was small and cramped, with one angel sitting there looking as bored and lonely as the Maytag repairman. “What is this room?” asked the man. Peter answered, “This is ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. This is where we receive all of the “thanks” for the answered prayers and blessings.”
We’re often better at “asking” in prayer than we are at “thanking.” “But Steve,” you object, “Sometimes it’s HARD to be thankful. When I’m sick, or grieving, or short on cash or hurt, I just don’t feel grateful. How am I supposed to be grateful when I don’t feel great?”
Jesus has something to teach us about that. That’s just the situation Jesus found himself in. In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus modeled gratitude when he didn’t feel great. Let’s look at 3 aspects of Jesus’ grateful example that we can follow no matter WHAT we’re experiencing in our circumstances.
I. JESUS SHARED THE CHALLENGES TO GRATITUDE
The first challenge to gratitude was emotional pain. The previous verses tell of the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod the Tetrarch. It was a violent death. John was decapitated in a sudden and unexpected execution. Jesus and John had been cousins, friends and comrades. John had baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Isn’t there often a special bond between you and the person who baptized you? As soon as Jesus heard of John’s death he went off to be alone. Why did Jesus get in a boat and go off to be alone? I don’t know, Steve, it doesn’t say. Well that’s a good question for us to ask ourselves. Could it be because Jesus was SAD? He was upset? He was grief-stricken? He was the go-to guy for all of these needy people and he gave and gave but when this news hits him he has to get away. He needs to mourn and grieve. So it is in the context of this intense grief and trauma that Jesus looks up toward heaven and gives thanks to God.
Some people here are in the midst of emotional pain. They may be grieving over the recent death of a loved one. They may be experiencing traumatic disruption of their family such as separation, divorce, rebellious children, domineering pa …