This week, here in America, we have the privilege of being able to live in a land that has much for which to be thankful. Let us consider a few of these things as we start the week. Maybe it will help each of us just a little bit to be a little more mindful of being thankful than we have been in recent years.
During the holidays, it is hard to cut through all of the crass commercialism that normally threatens to swallow families, chew them up, and spit them out on the other side. Credit cards are maxed for everything from that special Black Friday offering to gifts, some of which were not wanted or maybe even not very much appreciated.
I have had the privilege of not just visiting a number of countries, but growing up or as an adult, I have lived on three different continents. The experiences could fill at least one book, but one particular time stands out in my mind.
Just over five years ago, one of my children and I almost died while living in Liberia, West Africa. We were not there to get rich, but to provide training and support for pastors and their families who lived in the highland swampy jungles.
My daughter and I both contracted a severe strain of malaria the same week, and in addition, I was diagnosed with typhoid. Hearing the medical staff share their concern over whether your child is going to make it til the next morning is enough to get your attention. Two months later, I contracted a completely different strain of malaria and typhoid again. Together, it crushed my immune system. To this day, we both still have struggles from the diseases that ravished our bodies.
However, during that time, our home was a three-hour drive each way on a terrible road just to get supplies. The trip can only be described as painful. In many ways, it was not a good year to “FEEL” thankful, but we also learned to take each day and find something for which we could be thankful.
Living in a third world country helped our family to realize that the small things in life were just as important as the big things. Every new day was just as nice a gift as a present under the Christmas tree. Holding your child as they grew a little stronger was better than any item you could find on a Black Friday sale.
With that, I would like to share a few reminders of things for which you and I can be thankful every day.
- Food to eat – Not gathered scraps from the trash heaps
- Clean water – Not murky, yellow-colored that can kill you
- Jobs to go to that pay a decent wage (not $1 per day for 12-14 hours of work)
- Education system (primary, high school, and college)
- Clothes to wear – More than one set
- Roof to keep us dry – Not a decaying tin roof
- Electricity and gas to keep us warm and cook our food
- Vehicles to use so we don’t have to walk miles to work
- Freedom to worship on any day we choose
- Grocery stores filled with anything we choose to eat
- Pets to bring comfort
- Good medical staff and medicine to help us from dying at a young age like they do in West Africa
- Military who protect our freedoms and keep foreign troops from invading
Yes, this is just a handful of things for which we can all be thankful. I challenge each of you who read this to take a piece of paper and just take time to be thankful. You and I will never fully understand the meaning of gratitude and joy until we have learned to be thankful for even the small things of life.
From my family to yours,
May you have a Happy and Thankful Thanksgiving