Thankfulness is a life-changing choice.
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Illustrator: David Hohn
Publisher: Waterbrook, Penguin Random House
Written for Ages: 3-9
Summary: Little Pup and his mama are preparing for fall hibernation, and Little Pup is complaining. He doesn’t want to say goodbye to his friends and spend this next season in boredom. He and Mama take a walk around the community and notice all the blessings they have to enjoy. On the walk, Mama urges Little Pup to develop gratitude for what is available in his life. Friends, food, adventures, and family time remind him that he should be thankful regardless of his current situation. More enjoyable times will come again, after the dreaded hibernation period.
Scripture Connection: Moses risked his life leading the Israelites out of Egypt in Exodus 13 and 14. He had followed God’s leadership to bring the Israelites out of the land of slavery, and he had been chased by Pharaoh’s army into the Red Sea. Though the children of God were no longer in bondage in Egypt, they turned to Moses with complaints. The food was better in Egypt that their new desert location, they grumbled in Exodus 16. God heard their complaints and provided manna and quail for them to eat every day. It may not have been the cuisine they remembered from their time in Egypt, but it came with freedom and hope of a liberated future. Looking back to Egypt only caused them dissatisfaction with their present situation.
Theological Connection: Moses addressed the complaining Israelites with a harsh truth. Their complaints were not against him but against God. God had brought the plagues on Egypt to lead Pharoah to release the His people. God had parted the Red Sea so that they could pass through on dry land. God had brought them to this place because He had a plan for them. He knew what the future could hold for them when they were out of bondage. But they complained. They didn’t trust His divine leadership. They didn’t want to trust an unknown future; they would rather have stayed in the known circumstance of slavery in Egypt. God always has a better plan for people than they can see in front of them. If God removes people from a situation, it is only to move them onto something better. In Philippians, Paul reminds that the key to contentment is knowing that all things can be done through God’s strength and provision. (Philippians 4:13, 19)
Justice Connection: Children who are blessed to have their needs met need to be taught to be thankful. And then, as much as it is possible, to share with others. Having open conversations about poverty and hunger can open the eyes and ears of our children to the needs of others. Actively participating in food and clothing drives, serving in soup kitchens, volunteering in impoverished areas, and researching further methods of aid can show children that they need to be appreciative for what they already have…and help others who still need the most basic elements to thrive.
Faith Talk (God Talk):
- What big event had just happened to the Israelites?
- Who helped them through that event?
- What were they complaining about?
- Who gave them what they needed?
- What should they do the next time they are tempted to complain?
Parenting Connection: We want our children to be happy…and so do their doting aunties, grannies, and childless family friends. But often we equate happiness with ‘stuff’. Our children don’t need more ‘stuff’ to be happy. They need to learn to be grateful and content. These are internal choices. Paul said in Philippians 4:12, 13: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” This is a vital lesson for millennial children to learn. It’s not “more” that makes a better life. It’s contentment in life that counts.
You can buy a copy at Amazon or check out your local library.