Thank you! Two little words that carry a lot of weight when it comes to lifting the sagging spirit of a fellow traveler. So why don’t we use them more often? I know I’m guilty of that offense too many times.
Count your blessings. Another sentiment that isn’t practiced enough by most people. We’re more comfortable keeping company with the hardships we carry. I have fun picking on my co-workers who revel in how difficult their day is going to be as soon as they find out what they have to deliver. And they haven’t even left the break room!
Look at the bright side. That glass may be half full, but I’m so thirsty that whatever is in there isn’t going to be enough. I need more! Sound familiar?
No wonder we need a day set aside specifically to concentrate on being grateful.
So what are you grateful for? Let’s make a list: 1) we were able to pay all of our bills this past year, even got the balance of our credit card down a bit. I guess that means we can spend more this Christmas. Wait a minute, isn’t that defeating the purpose? 2) I still have a job to go to everyday, even though I’m either working too many hours to have a life outside of work, or they aren’t letting me work enough hours to pay the bills. 3) Both vehicles are running well, I just hope the van with 137,000 miles on it lasts the 4+ years we still owe on the car.
Do you see how the dark side creeps in on our thoughts when we let it? A more realistic list should go something like this. 1) I have a job that allows me to pay my bills and reach out to my unsaved co-workers. 2) We have two vehicles, some people have to put up with one unreliable one for two working people and kids in school. 3) We have a good place to live and good food to eat everyday, some people go to bed hungry and malnourished. 4) My eternal salvation is secured in Christ, I need to be more diligent in getting that good news to those around me.
It’s the old “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” I have actually met a man with no feet. Where are his feet? In Sadr City, Iraq; removed in an instant by an IED while on patrol (that’s a book God has me helping the family write). You see, when you look at the condition of those less fortunate than you gratitude comes much easier.
Last year I went through the book of 1 Peter in a small group Bible study. I lost track of the number of times some derivation of the word ‘suffering’ occurred. You see, the Christian life was never meant to be easy. God needs to toughen His soldiers up to fight the good fight. Don’t expect a “Well done, good and faithful servant” when you enter Heaven if you’ve only had good things happen to you. If you want to be fruitful to the Kingdom expect some discipline to come your way to develop your character. Things like death happen to the least deserving all the time.
I know a couple who lost a teenage son in a car accident. The first Thanksgiving after the loss they weren’t feeling thankful at all. The message that Sunday was spoken specifically to them. The passage was 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” They didn’t really want to be reminded that they were supposed to be thankful, but they were glad the preacher continued his explanation by saying: “Aren’t you glad that it doesn’t say ‘give thanks for everything’?”
Do you see the difference one word can make? They weren’t at all thankful for their son’s death, but they could rejoice that he’ll be waiting for them in Heaven; and they cherish all the memories they have because of the time they had with him.
Gratitude has always been a sparse commodity among us Earth-dwellers. If you don’t believe me read Luke 17:11-19. A little back story will help. The Samaritans and the Jews in Jesus’ day didn’t get along because the Samaritans were half-breeds. Jewish blood was cherished when it was rich and fully Jewish. You see, racism has always been around. The Samaritans lived in the middle of the country of Israel. So to get from Galilee in the north to Jerusalem in the south you either had to go through Samaria, or the more preferred route around it. Jesus, being the radical that He was, preferred the shorter, more direct way.
Another part of the story to know is that anybody with leprosy was considered unclean to everybody, so they kept their distance from passers-by by yelling “unclean… unclean” so they wouldn’t contaminate anybody who didn’t have the condition. So these ten lepers in a border town ask Jesus to heal them. One of the first things somebody had to do when they were cured of leprosy was present themself to the priest to be cleared to live among healthy people. That’s why Jesus told them to go to the priest. As they are obeying His request their faith is rewarded by the miracle of being cured. Only one of the ten men found Jesus to thank Him for the miracle.
Ten percent… that’s about the amount of saved people who really turn their lives over to Jesus once they’re saved in my estimation. With their eternal fire insurance taken care of most people go on with their lives with half-empty joy. I feel sorry for anybody who doesn’t set about learning as much about their Savior as they can by studying the Bible in a personal way. A college level study isn’t required, just an in-depth reading of the Word. Christianity is meant to be a relationship, not a religion!
The more you know about Jesus the more you’ll have to be grateful for.
I’ll see you later. Wade