This week's thought concerns two words that can change our outlook for the better when said to others and God. Those words are, "Thank you." Speaking courteously to others is good medicine for both the sender and the receiver. In challenging times, our human tendency is to focus on what we don't have, rather than what we do have. Or, to focus on who we aren't, rather than who we are. That’s a recipe for depression, suppression, and regression. Let me illustrate our human tendency with two short stories for you.
In an old Peanuts comic strip, Lucy announces, “Boy, do I feel crabby today.” Her little brother Linus, always the peacemaker, responds, “Maybe I can help. Why don’t you take my place in front of the TV and I’ll fix you a nice snack? Sometimes we all need a little pampering to make us feel better.”
A few minutes later, Linus brings Lucy a sandwich, some chocolate-chip cookies, and milk. "Is there anything else I can do for you? Anything I haven't thought of?" he asks. She replies, "There's one thing you haven't thought of. I don't want to feel better!" Sound familiar?
Two friends meet in the street. One man looked rather sad and down in the mouth. The other asked, "Hey, how come you look like the whole world caved in?" The sad fellow said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me ten thousand dollars." "I'm sorry to hear about the death, but a bit of good luck for you, eh?"
"Hold on; I'm just getting started. Two weeks ago, a cousin I never knew kicked-the-bucket and left me 20 thousand dollars, free and clear." "Well, you can't be disappointed with that!" "Yep. But last week, my grandfather passed away, and I inherited almost 100 thousand dollars." "Incredible...so how come you look so glum?" "Well, this week...nothing!" There's a heap of people out there like this guy. They have Limburger cheese on their nose and don't know it.
Let me ask you a question. What if we cultivated an attitude of gratitude every day of the year? Wouldn't you agree with me that our hurried, hassled, COVID19-obsessed, hot-tempered, 'have it my way' world, leads us away from a lifestyle of giving thanks? Just look at that man who received all those inheritances, or Lucy. Sometimes we all get to a point where we all feel like Lucy. “I don’t want to feel any better.”
Think about it. Gratitude keeps things in the right perspective. Here’s another story that illustrates this idea. In a Peanuts cartoon, Snoopy is getting dog food for his Thanksgiving Day dinner. He stares at the bowl and talks to himself. "How about that? Everyone is eating turkey today, but just because I'm a dog, I get dog food." He then trots away and positions himself on top of his doghouse and concludes: "Of course, it could have been much worse, I could have been born a turkey."
Gratitude deters us from the destructive influence of bitterness. The Bible reveals the truth about becoming bitter in Job 7:11. Job said, "I will complain in the bitterness of my soul." The bitter fruit of bitterness is continuously complaining. The Bible says, "Make sure that no one misses out on God's wonderful kindness. Don't let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you."
Hebrews 12:15. An attitude of gratitude permeates the atmosphere with positive energy. There’s a good vibe when gratitude is present. An attitude of bitterness and ungratefulness permeates the atmosphere with negative energy and a bad vibe.
Every experience in life can make you bitter or better - you decide. Don't let bitterness over something that someone has said or done prevent you from rising above the situation. Don't miss the good that God can do in your life despite the wrong that has happened to you. God can turn your greatest tragedy into your greatest triumph. When you can't see God's hand, trust in His character.
Finally, gratitude gives you a confident assurance about the future. Here’s an illustration of what I mean.
A friend promised his eight-year-old son, Bobby, that he would take him fishing on Saturday. The boy waited eagerly for the day to arrive, but rain spoiled their plans. Bobby grumbled all morning, moping about the house. By three in the afternoon, the rain ended, and they went fishing. They caught a boatload of fish.
At supper, Bobby's mother asked him to say grace. Bobby did so and concluded his prayer by saying, "And, Lord, if I sounded grumpy earlier in the day, it was because I couldn't see far enough ahead."
How far ahead are you looking? My encouragement for us today is to be 'farther sighted' when times are challenging. Where would you start if you wanted to take up my challenge? That's easy. I would suggest we start with the two most powerful words I know: "Thank you." Time alone doesn't heal, but insight into what you are speaking every day does.
Oh, by the way, thank you for reading my article each week. It’s how I give back to our community and city!