Young People Ask . . .
Why Should I Be Thankful?
“THE world owes me a living”—so sang a character in Walt Disney’s version of Pinocchio. And such appears to be the philosophy of life adopted by many young people living today. They feel no particular debt of gratitude toward anyone—parents, society, or even God.
A poll carried out in France among young people from 16 to 22 years of age showed that the majority of them put freedom to live their lives as they please far ahead of “more respect for family, country, or religion.” How do you feel about such things?
Your background and your future prospects may give you no obvious grounds for feeling thankful for your lot in life. You may be one of the millions of youngsters who were brought up in a one-parent home or even in a no-parent home. Perhaps at school you were taught by indifferent teachers. Upon leaving school, you may have started your work career by being out of work. Little wonder that in today’s callous world, some young people feel unwanted, unloved, untaught, and unemployed. Understandably, they may ask: What do I have to be thankful for?
Unthankful to Parents
Ingratitude to parents is nothing new. In the 17th century Shakespeare had King Lear exclaim: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”
In all fairness, it must be admitted that while many youngsters today are “thankless” children, the fault often lies with their parents. A wise man of long ago wrote: “If one is pampering one’s servant from youth on, in his later life he will even become a thankless one.”—Proverbs 29:21.
This has been the case with many pampered children. They have grown up to be adolescents and young adults who feel that ‘the world owes them a living’ but that they owe nothing to anybody.
Why Be Thankful to Your Parents?
Fortunately, not all parents pamper their children, and not all children grow up to be “thankless” ones. If you have been raised in a two-parent home, you should be thankful. Of course, no parents are perfect. But that is no reason to be ungrateful for what they have done for you. What you since your birth have cost them in time and money is incalculable. You may reply that you did not ask to be born. True, but you do exist, and someone has had to take care of you for many years. Thousands of children are abandoned by their parents and not all get adopted. Your parents lovingly kept you and did the best they could to bring you up. Don’t you owe them gratitude?
Even if you were raised by foster parents, you should be thankful to them, especially since they were not responsible for your coming into existence. They may have paid a large sum of money to have the right to rear you. Or, depending on where you live, the State may have paid them to bring you up. Either way, you owe them gratitude, for money can’t buy love and attention.
Or perhaps you were raised in a one-parent home. One young woman, now living in Italy, reflects on her youthful attitude toward her mother, who brought her up alone. She writes: “Young ones seem to think their parents should be perfect. I must admit that this was true in my case when I was younger. Only later did I realize that I was in no way justified in not showing her due respect. I was greatly helped when I asked myself: Is Mum a bad person? No, I was convinced that she was really a good person. She always did her best according to her understanding. But she is imperfect, as I am imperfect. So I felt very sorry about the thoughtless way I acted before I grasped that point.”
Others Deserve Your Gratitude
How many youngsters, at a crucial point in their lives, have received help and guidance from someone who owed them nothing? It might have been a friend of the family, a schoolteacher, or a person, of either sex, within a Christian congregation.
As an ancient proverb says: “A word at its right time is O how good!” (Proverbs 15:23) Good advice, given at the right time, can prevent catastrophic consequences. (1 Samuel 25:33) The Bible shows that sensible, experienced women can give valuable guidance to young women. (Titus 2:3-5) In particular, elders within a Christian congregation can help young people to avoid pitfalls and pursue fine goals in life. (See 2 Timothy 2:20-22.) Yes, a word of guidance can mark a turning point in a young person’s life. Do you remember benefiting from such timely counsel? If so, have you remembered to be thankful?
Lydie, a young Christian woman in France, recalls a crisis she went through when she was 16. After becoming a baptized Witness of Jehovah, she became absorbed in her school studies, and her interest in Christian activities and meetings cooled off. One day she calmly announced that she no longer wished to share in Witness meetings and preaching work. Her parents spoke to her kindly but firmly. Then three congregation elders asked to speak with her. She expected them to ‘drown her in Scriptures proving that she should go out and preach.’ Instead, they listened to her grievances, showed kind understanding, and offered her brotherly help. She writes: “What a surprise! I was overwhelmed by their kind attitude. Thanks to their loving help I came to my senses.” Lydie is now serving as a full-time Christian minister.
Thankful to God
Undoubtedly the worst form of ingratitude displayed these days by many young people is unthankfulness to God. Most of them put material things ahead of God.
Happily, many young people throughout the world realize how much they owe God. Young Michel lives with his Witness mother in a small, isolated town on the French island of Corsica. When an Awake! correspondent asked him to write down any reasons he could think of for being thankful to God, he listed 24. He began with the gift of life and the things needed to sustain it and enjoy it. Then, after reflection, he noted down spiritual blessings he enjoys—a believing mother and spiritual brothers who are willing to travel long distances to help them both.
Like Michel, many thousands of youngsters feel gratitude to “the living God” who “gives to all persons life and breath and all things.” (Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-28) For these, the ingratitude of many of their peers is just one more proof that we are living in “the last days” of the present wicked system of things. The apostle Paul wrote: “Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 2, Today’s English Version.
Hundreds of thousands of young Jehovah’s Witnesses have a brilliant future ahead of them in the righteous “new earth,” now near. (2 Peter 3:9, 13) Meanwhile, many of them are showing their gratitude by spending as much time as possible telling others about this grand hope. And even if their fleshly family does not share their faith, they enjoy the warmth of a worldwide spiritual family of brothers.—Mark 10:29, 30.
So whether you are thinking of your parents, your teachers, experienced friends who have counseled you, or, above all, Jehovah, “the God who gives hope,” reflect on the many reasons you have to ‘show yourself thankful.’—Romans 15:13; Colossians 3:15.
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“I was greatly helped when I asked myself: Is Mum a bad person? No, I was convinced that she was really a good person”
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Children, too, can show gratitude in simple ways