Last night Tamara and I circled up with our four girls to pray.
As is the norm, I asked the girls what they were thankful for and then proceeded to see which would be willing to pray for the family.
Our youngest, Ashlin, who is a week away from five years old enthusiastically asked to pray. We all smiled and waited for her to begin.
She started off in a loud and happy voice, “I’m thank you for my sister Mary Joy.” “I’m thank you for my sister Esther.” “I’m thank you for my sister Sara.” “I’m thank you for my mommy Mommy.” “And I’m thank you for my daddy Daddy.”
It was hard not to keep her sisters from giggling, but we all appreciated her words and heart enough to keep the chuckles in and allow her to finish as she thank-you’d God for the rest of our family and church.
Her transposition of thankful into thank you seemed like an innocent and sincere slip of phrasing. It made me think, however, that it was also deep and maybe theological.
Ashlin has the faith of a child. The things she is thankful for are truly, in her mind, thank you’s to God.
It reminded me of the book of James where Jesus’ brother writes, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights.” Paul also encouraged us to present our requests to God “with thanksgiving.”
Maybe there’s a subtle difference between thankful and thanksgiving. Maybe the former is about my emotion and experience of gratitude more than the latter which is directive and appreciative toward the one responsible for our blessing?
Maybe there’s a difference in our hearts between thankful and thank you.
Whether there’s a deep theological distinction here or not, last night my little angel brought tears to my eyes and taught her dad about purity of heart and what it looks like to truly be thank you to God.