makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, creates a vision for tomorrow.
It’s sometimes surprising how many people don’t realize how important it is for us to be thankful and to express that gratitude. Thinking in terms of what you are grateful for instead of thinking about all the things that annoy you, can change your attitude, your disposition and help to reduce wrinkles. (I just made that last part up but I think it might be true. After all if you smile more and frown less you won’t have that deep crevice on your forehead from all the frowning that you’ve been doing.)
I think there are two types of gratitude. The first one is gratitude for all the wonderful things in your life that we so often take for granted. This one is easy. Just think about how grateful you are for the great lunch you had with friends, or the new house you just moved into, or how sweet your children look when they are sleeping, or the anniversary you just celebrated.
But even though that one is easy to do we don’t do it as often as we should. I know I don’t. I don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about all the things I have to be thankful for. That is something I’m working on. I’ll start today with a gratitude journal. I plan to keep it somewhere handy so whenever I think about something that I am grateful for I can jot it down. Then, in order to really make it even more meaningful, I’ll read through each day’s list just before I go to bed.
The other type of gratitude is hard and sometimes seems impossible in the moment. This is gratitude for something that we didn’t ask for, didn’t want and would love to get rid of. This isn’t a Pollyanna type gratitude where you proclaim gratitude for your car breaking down in the middle of the street and you have to walk a mile in 95 degree weather to get help. (Almost nobody believes that it true,)
This type of gratitude usually comes later, after we’ve had time to process what happened. That’s when we realize that there were some blessings that came from it that w didn’t recognize at the time. Pastor Merle (PVBC) told a story about Corrie Ten Boom yesterday that beautifully illustrates this.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch citizen who, along with her family were arrested by the Nazi’s during WWII for hiding Jewish refugees. All of Corrie’s family died while in the concentration camp, including her sister Betsie. Corrie was very angry about their situation and her sister Betsie kept telling Corrie not to let anger and hatred take hold. One of the things that Corrie hated while in the camp were the fleas. Their barracks were unclean, overcrowded with women and full of fleas. Corrie couldn’t stand the fleas biting and itching. After Betsie died, Corrie thought about all the horrors of their living circumstances but she also realized something else. Following a forbidden prayer group that Corrie was a part of she realized the soldiers weren’t coming through their barracks to search for forbidden things or activities. She realized that the soldiers didn’t come in because of the fleas. They didn’t want to pick up any fleas by walking through. This meant, that weren’t going to stop them from praying and they weren’t going to confiscate the few Bibles they had managed to hang on to. S realized that God had used the fleas to keep those women safe.
Corrie had learned to be thankful for the fleas. She also realized that God didn’t answer her prayers to get rid of the fleas for a good reason.
We probably all have had some type of “fleas” in our lives. A little reflection on those “fleas” might help us recognize some things we now know we should be thankful for.