My bubbly nine-year-old godchild, Leigh, is a baby rocket blessing to many. I admire how she likes taking pictures with her friends as much as she enjoys giving and receiving hugs. Sometimes, she’d Viber me (thru her mom’s phone) just to ask what I am doing. Sometimes, she’d call me just to share what she is watching on TV. Her simple and random acts of thoughtfulness bring joy.
People at church would often see Leigh roam around our worship venue, observing adult discussions. When there are younger kids who need someone to play with, she would be their temporary ate to guide them. Whenever I sit beside her during lunch, she wouldn’t mind having a “mature” conversation with me. And whenever the Word of God is being read and shared as a group, she would seat beside her mom and listen. I would often think and joke that Leigh is a twenty-year-old lady trapped in an nine-year-old girl’s body. But kidding aside, she is truly a blessing to many people especially to her family.
One time, she sat beside me well-behaved during our cell group. I asked her, “Leigh, ano ang prayer request mo?” (“Leigh, what’s your prayer request?”). She smiled and said, “Siguro po, thank you lang kay Jesus. Kasi po dahil sa Kanya, si mama po at ako nagpe-pray na palagi” (“Maybe just a thank you to Jesus. Because of Him, mama and I often pray together now”). While all the adults in the group requested prayers for their careers, families, school grades and other personal desires, Leigh did not ask for anything. She just wanted to thank God. This touched my heart in so many ways.
We live in a world today where it is easier to demand, wish and ask for things than to be thankful and content. We all want to have more and something better. People today even perceive Christmas as a day to justify the need to drink and be merry, to hype shopping sales and to wish for material things. Our tradition dictates that Christmas is a season for giving, receiving and social gatherings in so many forms.
I am not saying that it is wrong to conform to our tradition. I myself have conformed to the monito-monitas and late-night Christmas parties. I am also not saying that it is wrong to ask for things. In fact, God encourages us in Matthew 7:7-12 to ask, seek and knock — “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”. But what I want to emphasize on is the condition of our hearts whenever we forget to thank God because we are so focused on requesting our wants and desires.
I am guilty of this, too. My prayers would highlight a lot of asking rather than praising, thanking and confessing. “God, please do this”, “God, if it is Your will, can I please have this”, “God will you please change this”, etc.
God used Leigh to remind to be thankful and content not for what God can do or give but for who He is.
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Jesus died on the cross for our sins and on the third day, He rose again to set us free (1 Corinthians 15:3). Regardless if I am feeling good or broken, because of Jesus, I am secured in the unconditional love of God. In answered prayers and in trying times, because of Jesus, I am purified and forgiven. In victories and struggles, because of Jesus, I am made complete and filled.
Jesus came into this world – not because I deserve it but because God loves me (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). He took my sin, guilt, hopelessness and shame not because I am entitled for an eternal life but because I deserve hell (Revelations 21:8) and I cannot save myself (Ephesians 2:8-9). He endured the thorns, nails, embarrassment, spits, lashes and hurtful words which I should have received myself in the fiery lake of burning sulfur not because I can do good or be good, but because more than anything else, Jesus wants my personal relationship with God to be restored (1 Peter 3:18).
I am thankful because Jesus wanted my heart even though my heart was just so full of myself.
And God used an nine-year-old girl to remind me of this.