Ephesians 5:19-20: “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Tom Schmidt visited a nursing home once or twice a week. Not a task most of us would like to do. Schmidt related that one day he went down a hallway he normally did not go down. He said that sometimes the worst cases are those who sit in wheelchairs out in the hall. Many are not able to function. He was giving people flowers who were able to hold them. He noticed one woman who looked the worst of all. He could tell by her blank stare that she was blind. She had a thick hearing aid on so he knew she could barely hear. Worst of all cancer had eaten away a good portion of her face deforming her appearance so that she looked repulsive. Constant drooling from her drooping mouth strung and dripped down her face onto her chest. He said that he bent down and put a flower in her hand and said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” Her response, though garbled, revealed a very keen mind. She said, “Thank you very much. It’s lovely. But do you mind if I give it to someone else because I’m blind and I can’t see it?” Schmidt said that he wheeled her down the hallway to a section where the people were more alert. As she stretched the flower out for someone to take she said, “This is from Jesus.” 

He said, “I knew right then that this was no ordinary human being. So, every time I came back, sometimes once or twice a week, I would visit with her. I learned that her name was Mabel. She grew up and remained single living with her mother on a farm. Her mother died. Then she became blind and she had to be put in a home where cancer threatened her life. She lived with a roommate that was a human vegetable. Her existence was horrible. But I also learned that she really knew the Lord. I’d try and read scripture and she would go on and quote the rest of the verse. Or sometimes she would sing hymns. She had been there for twenty-five years. She was eighty-nine years old. I asked her one day, “Mabel, what do you think about all day long?” She said, “Well, I just think about my Jesus.” Schmidt said, “I would have a hard time thinking about Jesus five minutes in a row and she thinks about him all day long.” He then asked, “What do you think about him?” She said, “Well, I just think about how good he has been to me. He’s been awful good to me, you know. Jesus, in fact, is all the world to me.” Then she began to sing, “My life, my joy, my all. He is my strength from day to day. Without Him I would fall. When I am sad, to Him I go. No other one can cheer me so. When I am sad, He makes me glad. He’s my friend.” 

Schmidt said, “This lady was not denying reality. Her personality, once you got beyond the physical, was so attractive because she lived the life of gratitude.” (Adapted from The Life You Always Wanted by John Ortburg)

Gratitude can transform you. Gratitude is not a feeling but a choice. It is the lens through which we see our world. Look through the lens of gratitude this Thanksgiving and see how an attitude of gratitude can change you.

A ridiculously good life...

Today’s thought:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Meet Nick. In 1982, Nick Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Nick has no arms or legs, although he has two small feet attached to his torso. Growing up, Nick struggled emotionally and physically to accept his condition. But today as a follower of Christ, Nick has what he calls "a ridiculously good life." 

Nick writes: “When I'm asked how I can claim a ridiculously good life when I have no arms or legs, [people] assume I'm suffering from what I lack. They inspect my body and wonder how I could possibly give my life to God, who allowed me to be born without limbs. Others have attempted to soothe me by saying that God has all the answers and then when I'm in heaven I will find out his intentions. Instead, I choose to live by what the Bible says, which is that God is the answer today, yesterday, and always. When people read about my life or witness me living it, they are prone to congratulate me for being victorious over my disabilities. I tell them that my victory came in surrender. It comes every day when I acknowledge that I can't do this on my own, so I say to God, "I give it to you!" Once I yielded, the Lord took my pain and turned it into something good... He gave my life meaning when no one and nothing else could provide it. [And] if God can take someone like me, someone without arms and legs, and use me as his hands and feet, he can use anybody. It's not about ability. The only thing God needs from you is a willing heart.”

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) We read this and think, ‘All circumstances? Really? What about when I loose my job? What about when my wife leaves me? What about when my husband has an affair? What about when we run out of food? What about when we loose the house? What about when the doctor says it’s cancer? What about when my baby is born with Cystic Fibrosis?’ 

The Apostle Paul, who wrote this, knew some tough “all circumstances” as well. Hard work, flogged, imprisonments, near death experiences, shipwrecked having to spend a day and night in the sea, whipped, stoned, in danger on every side, cold and naked, and going without food and water very often. (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-29) Yes, all circumstances. 

Most of the time it is wrong to compare ourselves to others. But when it comes to seeing how blessed we are and being thankful, then compare yourself. If Nick can give thanks to God in his circumstances can you not in yours? Did you wake up today with arms and legs? Then, praise God! Being grateful is not a matter of focusing on what you don't have but what you do. We all have things to be grateful for. This Thanksgiving "count your many blessings," and see that the Lord is good. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4-5) What a “ridiculously good life” you have! So, give God thanks.

Prayer: Father we come to you with thanksgiving in our heart for you have blessed all of us in our own ways. Open our eyes so we can see those blessings and bring our thanks to you. Thank you for Nic and his testimony to your incredible blessings. Thank you for our ridiculously good life! In Jesus name, amen.