No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT).
Mark Tidd of Webster, New York, tells how an old man showed up at his back door one day. The old man’s eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. In his hand was a wicker basket with a few unappealing vegetables. He said, “Good morning,” and offered his produce for sale. A quick purchase was made out of pity and fear.
A week later, the old man returned. He introduced himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. Looking closely, Mark realized that it wasn’t alcohol but cataracts that marbleized Mr. Roth’s eyes. A friendship began to develop. When Mr. Roth would visit, he’d shuffle in wearing two mismatched right shoes, pull out a harmonica, and puff out the old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion.
On one visit, he exclaimed, “The Lord is good! This morning I found a bag full of shoes and clothes on my porch.” “That’s wonderful, we’re happy for you,” said Mark. “You know what’s even more wonderful?” asked Mr. Roth. “Just yesterday I met some people who could really use them.”
Do we know how to be thankful in the way Mr. Roth was thankful? When I was younger, I was taught the importance of saying please and thank you. It was drummed into me. Even when I couldn’t figure out why my grandmother gave me six tea-stained coasters; I still said thank you. But saying thank you and being thankful aren’t the same thing. Some people have the best of manners, they always say thank you, but they’re not thankful. Thankfulness is feeling gratitude – it’s taking pleasure in something – it’s being appreciative.
Listen. When you’re in pain it’s no excuse to be a pain. God wants you to be thankful. Now I know, it’s tough when you wake up but don’t want to get up, your arthritis flares up, the price of gas goes up, your skin dries up, you eat something and want to throw up, the washing piles up, the neighbour’s stuck up, the funeral arrangements are paid up, or your daughter doesn’t show up! Even when you have every reason to be fed up, it’s still no excuse to give up. There’s always something to be thankful for – always some way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Something remarkable happens when you choose to be thankful. It becomes infectious. People love to be around grateful people. And at the end of the day, it’s good to have people around us. So be thankful, “no matter what happens” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT).