UNHAPPY PEOPLE take their blessings for granted. They assume they deserve them. Happy people take nothing for granted. They understand that everything is God’s gift. The decade of birth, place of birth, parents, IQ, talents, etc. are all God’s gracious gifts. They “overflow with thanksgiving”for the things that most take for granted. Here are seven facts that this kind of person celebrates daily. I start with the least important.
SEVENTH is technology. I can call or Skype my daughter in England for free. Just twenty years ago skyping did not exist, and calling was from a land line at $2-$5.00 per minute. When missionaries Adoniram and Anne Judson left New England in 1812, it took six months for a letter to travel home from India. What used to require a 400 volume encyclopedia in 1980 is now available instantly through Google. A 1971 computer the size of my two story house would not do what my smart phone does instantly with a Siri command today. Ninety nine percent of human beings have never enjoyed these technologies, let alone smart phones. Are you grateful?
SIXTH is indoor plumbing. My father-in-law was born in 1913. He used an outhouse until he was in his twenties. Imagine an outhouse in the middle of the night on the plains of North Dakota with the temperature at minus 10? Not a pleasant thought. But outhouses, or worse, have been the norm for 99% of those who have lived. But we have indoor plumbing in heated homes. Do you ever thank God for this incredible blessing, or do you just take it for granted?
FIFTH is central heating and air conditioning. Up until the last hundred years the world’s wealthiest people only enjoyed radiant heat from a fireplace situated in one corner of the room. Since most rooms lacked fireplaces, the ambient temperature in most winter dwellings was 40-50 degrees . Everyone dressed inside like we dress outside on a cold day. How about Summer? Humid heat with no relief. Since screens weren’t invented until recently, bugs permeated everything, even the houses of kings and queens. Are you grateful?
FOURTH is amazing Medical Care. One of my grandchildren was born without an anus. One hundred years ago within 48 hours he would have died in great agony. Today in Africa or S. E. Asia that is still the case. But nine years ago several operations re-plumbed him, and he is now a healthy third grader. How about ibuprofen and acetaminophen? 99% of those who have lived have never experienced the gift of a pain killer. In 1960 C.S. Lewis suffered from an enlarged prostate. He wore a catheter and urinated into a bag. Once at a Cambridge faculty meeting the bag leaked urine. Lewis was profoundly embarrassed. Today, a simple operation would fix this. Are you grateful?
THIRD is political and religious freedom. Historically, both have been almost non-existent . Even today only 25% of the worlds population enjoys both. This means we Americans are spoiled. We can move anywhere, work anywhere, and go to church anywhere, without government permission. Why is it that so many millennials don’t value these blessings? If history is any teacher, they won’t continue. So, are you grateful?
|% Living on less than $1/Day|
SECOND, all the food you can eat! Only in the West, and in the last fifty years, have people not had to worry about where their next meal would come from. So great is our abundance, that we don’t complain about the quantity of food, but the variety. But most that have lived on this planet have eaten monotonously. Usually boiled grain three meals a day, i.e. wheat, rice, oats, etc. (when they could get it). By contrast, our national problems is obesity. We have such an abundance that most have trouble keeping the pounds off. Are you grateful, or do you take all of this for granted?
FIRST, the gospel has solved your biggest problem, the wrath of God. Sin separates us from God, our source of greatest good, and taking his rich gifts for granted is one of the sins that most provokes his anger. Grumbling and complaining are the fruits. Our unwillingness to be thankful makes God angry. Wouldn’t it you? But, here is the measure of God’s infinite goodness. Our Father wanted reconciliation. He wanted his anger abated. So, he sent his Son to die on the cross. In our place, Jesus exhausted his Father’s wrath for our grumbling, complaining, and lack of gratitude.
Look at all these blessings. You didn’t earn them. God could have birthed you into a medieval serf’s family. No heat, indoor plumbing, medical care, food, or political rights. These are all the result of God’s AMAZING GRACE to us. Grace is unmerited favor. If God gives gifts that we could never merit, how is it possible to take them for granted? We should be jumping up and down, shouting “thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus!”
Guilt is not the proper response. Thanksgiving is. God wants us to overflow with heart-felt thanksgiving. You and I have it good. In this regard, the will of God is clear. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving” (Ps. 100:4). “Giving thanks always and in everything to God” (Eph. 5:20). “Walk in him, rooted and built up in him… overflowing with thanksgiving.”