Brian and I have been involved in missions now together for over a decade. We landed in Santiago, Chile, South America in July of 2013. I was to teach Kindergarten that year at the ABWE Christian School, Santiago Christian Academy. Brian was to do maintenance and handyman stuff on campus.
Chile came up in conversation this week. I asked Brian if he remembered when it was that we started our weekly “marriage time” with affirmations. While we differed slightly in time frame in our memories, we agreed together that it was a stake in the ground in our marriage that we have come back to time and time again. Words of appreciation matter. Spoken words of gratitude acknowledge being seen and known. Words of thankfulness are a Biblical command. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18).
I used to read that verse with an arrogant and haughty response. “What?” I would counter the Lord, “How can I give thanks if I don’t FEEL it? Isn’t that like lying?” In a short book by Ruth and Warren Myers entitled 31 Days of Praise, there is a quote that speaks directly to that notion. It says, “Giving thanks when you don’t feel like it is not hypocrisy, it’s obedience (emphasis added).”
This week there were a few situations that came up in which I didn’t necessarily FEEL grateful. However, as I think back on them today, I realize that I had SO much to be grateful for!
We were hit by a rock this week in our back passenger side window on the way to school. The glass shattered. Thankfully, the stone did not come through the window entirely. We found out after the fact that there are two panes of glass….an outside one and an inner one. The inner pane of glass was still entirely intact! To God be the glory! It also must be noted that NO ONE WAS HURT! Again, to God be the glory! The rock did not cause any subsequent damage. To God be the glory!!! One final note of praise is that although Brian was out of town, we have radios in our vehicles that enabled me to call out to our team for help immediately! Again, to God be the glory!!!
I tried two new games this week in one of my PE classes I teach. Both ended up being miserable flops. I was quite discouraged and disgruntled about the whole thing. I gave my dear hubby and a friend an earful of grumbles and ingratitude about it all. While there were no “warm-fuzzies” that were shared that afternoon, I was left that evening with the stark realization that I had disobeyed. The Word of God says, “In EVERYTHING give thanks…” Regardless of how I was feeling due to personal failure, there was still much to be thankful for. No one was seriously hurt. I learned two new games NOT to use in class. And, ultimately? The goal is to strive towards physical fitness…NOT to just have fun and play games. When I keep that in focus, it wasn’t such a failure. Instead, it was a needed redirection from the Hand of God!
As I sit today again (a week later) and reflect on gratitude, I am so grateful for the team of prayer and financial reservoirs that God has richly surrounded us with. Pooled together you all are providing the life giving resources we need to continue to serve Our Great God here in PNG! We are thankful for the time and funds invested by so many! Whether you FEEL the impact or not, you are making an eternal difference! And, maybe? Maybe there’s something in your life and heart that deserves gratitude even IF you don’t feel it too!