This week’s memory verse: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” —Psalm 100:4 KJV
An Attitude of Gratitude
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Helen Keller
I’m going to make a statement that may shock some of you, so hold on to your seat. Now, I don’t want to come across as being super-spiritual or anything like that, but…sometimes God talks to me! No. Not in an audible voice that I can hear with my ears—although the Bible does have examples of that very thing happening. When God talks to me, it’s more of an impression in my mind.
Recently it happened. I was sitting in a repair shop waiting area while my car was being worked on. I knew in advance that it would take a bit of time so I brought my iPad with me in order to do some work while I waited—so the trip wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. There was another man already there watching TV when I arrived, waiting for his vehicle to be serviced.
We sat there in silence for several minutes and then it happened. It was as if the Holy Spirit sat down beside me and said, “Talk to that guy over there.” Now, I’m not the type of person who just starts a conversation with a stranger who is obviously watching TV. So, I brushed it off and tried to go back to my iPad. Then it happened again, “Talk to him.”
I looked over at him and made some comment about the incessant rain that west Tennessee had been experiencing the last two weeks. He looked back at me, nodding his head, and sheepishly started to reply. I say “started to reply” because as he started to speak it became obvious that this gentleman suffered with what is probably the worst case of stuttering that I have ever heard.
After he managed to get his reply out, he looked down at the floor. It felt like he was expecting that to be the end of our conversation. I assumed he had experienced this uncomfortable silence whenever people discovered his speech impediment—them not willing to pursue the conversation any further.
He looked up and a smile came to his face when I made another comment to carry on our conversation. We talked. Each time he would start a sentence we would have to wait 10-20 seconds or more for him to get past that first syllable. Sometimes he would become so frustrated that he would stop, take another breath and then start again.
We ended up talking for about 20 minutes or so. By the time his car was ready to go, we both had left our seats and were standing together in the center of the waiting area. He was sharing a website with me for a place where a guy could purchase tires at a very good price.
After he left, I sat back down and thought about what had just happened. I did some serious reflecting. I can’t imagine the struggles that this man must have endured in his life. I finally had to admit that I enjoy so many wonderful blessings that I take for granted—and neglect to be thankful for?
In his book Today Matters, John Maxwell says, “Of all the virtues, gratitude seems to be the least expressed. How often do people go out of their way to thank you? How often do you receive a thank-you note when you give a gift? More important, how often do you extend your thanks to others? In our culture of plenty, we tend to take things for granted.”
The Apostle Paul in writing to the church at Colossae drew a contrast between the “old man” and the “new man”. He lists things that the Christian should put on. He ends his admonition by saying, “ And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” —Colossians 3:15 KJV
‘The modern American seldom pauses to give thanks for the simple blessings of life. One reason is that we are used to having so much. We simply assume that we will have all the good things of life. Another reason is that it hurts our pride to be grateful. We do not want to admit that God is the Provider of all good things. We are simply His stewards. Being thankful requires humility and faith in God. When we have these, we can be grateful.” —Richard B. Douglass
It’s true, we Americans enjoy many wonderful blessings. We are at the forefront when it comes to the arts, science, tehnology, and culture. However, the Apostle James reminds us of the true source of all the good things that we enjoy when he says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights… .” —James 1:17 KJV
In the seventeenth chapter of the book of Luke, we are told the story of ten men who had the dreaded desease of leprosy. By law they were required to keep a safe distance from healthy people, so the Bible says that they, “stood afar off”. They heard that Jesus was passing by and they began to cry out to Him for mercy. Let’s go to the Bible for what Paul Harvey would call the rest of the story.
“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” —Luke 17:14-17 KJV
It’s very possible for us to become so engrossed in what WE are doing that we forget to acknowledge what God and others are doing for us. Personally, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that there are times when I fall into a rut where nothing seems to satisfy me. I gripe, complain, and grumble, in spite of the fact that I have so very much I should be thankful for. Maybe you get that way, too.
It would be good for us to remember the words of St. Ambrose. “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
So, who are you really?
“Seattle is a beautiful place, but in the 1980’s I was living in a beat-up beach cabin. I had an old TV, a lumpy futon, and one of those white plastic Princess phones. I was basically broke, but my noisy old refrigerator was stuffed with fresh vegetables, eggs, fruit, beer, and frozen pizza—and I had a spectacular view of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and the Seattle skyline.
That year, I volunteered to host a college exchange student from Guinea-Bissau, Africa. When I picked him up at the airport, Salvatore was easy to spot. He was 23, tall and regal-looking, with a huge smile and lustrous blue-black skin. He had lived his entire life as a barefoot fisherman in a small village located on a big river deep in the jungle of Guinea-Bissau—and now his village had raised enough money to send him to study U.S. fisheries on their behalf. He had travelled directly from his African village to Seattle, and I could see he was astonished at what he saw as we drove through the beautiful city.
When we arrived at my raggedy cabin, I worried that Salvatore might be disappointed with his new accommodations. He seemed somber as I showed him the little bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, TV and telephone. What was Salvatore thinking? I decided to take him out on the little deck to try to impress him with the view. The snow-clad mountains were spread out against the sky that day, and one of Seattle’s majestic white ferries was gliding across the sparkling waters of Puget Sound. We stood there silently for a while, and then Salvatore turned to me with his brow deeply knit in thought.
‘You are a king?’ He asked. ‘No,’ I laughed, ‘I’m just an everyday person like you.’ Salvatore was silent for a moment, and then he turned again and said quite clearly and emphatically, ‘You are a king.’ And it suddenly dawned on me that he was right. All these years I had been a king and not known it.” —Scott Sabol, Ph. D. in “ONE: How many people does it take to make a difference?” by Dan Zadra & Kobi Yamada
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” —1Peter 2:9-10 KJV
“Thou who has given so much to me, give me one thing more—a grateful heart!” —George Herbert
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
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