I was reading the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15 this week. It’s an amazing story of a father’s grace and love for his son. And it reminds us that we have so much to be thankful for. If you’re not familiar with the story, I would encourage you to read it.
The main person in the story is obviously the “prodigal son”. And one of the key highlights in the story is the father’s unconditional love for him. But I realized as I read through the story again that, many times, we skip over the part the older brother plays in this parable. When you take a closer look at his role in the story, there’s actually a powerful lesson about learning to be thankful for what we have.
The older brother stayed when the prodigal son left but, when the prodigal returned, this older brother wasn’t as welcoming and forgiving as the father. At the celebration of the prodigal son’s return, the house was packed and every seat was taken, except for one. The seat next to the prodigal son was empty because his older brother refused to attend. Instead, he stood outside angry and upset.
His father saw him outside and went to him and urged him to come in and celebrate the return of his little brother. This just seemed to upset him even more. It brought about a flood of emotions not just towards his younger brother but towards his father as well. And we see in the story the resentment he had towards his father for welcoming his brother back.
In the midst of their interaction, the father reminded the older brother that he’d always had his father’s blessing and that everything the father had was already his. If anyone had reason to be thankful, wasn’t it the older brother? He had been experiencing his father’s inheritance every day. He never had to experience hunger or servitude.
It’s interesting to me that we can do all the right things, possess all the benefits of our Father God, and still fail to be thankful. How often are we blind to the blessings that we actually have? The older brother had everything but he failed to see it. The truth is that many of us miss our share of joy at times because we fail to look for the blessings we already have. Yes, times are hard right now and there may be many things that upset us or that we can complain about. But as we enter into the week of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take some time to look around, take stock, and reflect on the many blessings that we have. And then, give thanks to the One who has blessed each of us so richly.