When I woke up this morning, it was the first time in ten days that I felt no pain in my head. In fact, I only remembered my accident after glancing at my reflection in the bathroom mirror–though improving after passing so many days . . . oh my, what a shiner! This week has been full of lessons about gratitude, humility and the difference they make in how we navigate our lives:
LESSON ONE: Last Monday, while visiting my daughter and her family, I took a bit of a tumble. Okay . . . truthfully, it was more like a crash and burn on concrete . . . SPLAT. I counted it a blessing that I could pick myself up and made my way up the stairs–nothing broken except maybe my pride. I kept an ice pack on my head and laid low for several hours, but was grateful to enjoy a good finish to our visit.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
LESSON TWO: On Tuesday, I was no worse from my “tumble/crash” so was grateful to fly home with my husband. As we traveled I saw several reports in the news about a study done by the Pew Research Center’s findings titled, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” According to the report, while Christianity still dominates the American religious identity at 70 percent, “dramatic shifts” have taken place as “people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.” (USA Today) I watched an interview featuring a thirty-something year old man, who was “raised in the church” but who “had no need” of “religion.” None of this was a surprise to me, in fact, it confirmed what I have witnessed in my own community. What caught my attention though, was the countenance of the young man who was interviewed–I saw a joylessness (a spiritual deadness) that weighed heavy on my heart.
Reflecting on the report, I shuddered as I wondered about the correlation between such spiritual deadness and the horrific violence being reported around the world. It was then that I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul, who wrote in his final letter to his young friend Timothy:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous,
rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with such people.
II Timothy 3:1-5
How are Christians to respond to such a world? We are called to love others when given the opportunity, as Christ has loved us, in grateful humility–
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,
Christ died for the ungodly . . . .
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:6, 8b)
LESSON THREE: Wednesday morning, we woke up to the news of a deadly train derailment that occurred the previous evening. Eight people were killed and hundreds injured. The reports were grim, however, one bright spot stood out to me. It was a tweet from one of the survivors at the scene,
“No wallet, one shoe, so grateful….”
As I processed the words of the tweet, I was surprised when I realized that tears were welling up in my eyes–what was that about? It struck me that sometimes it takes our being stripped of everything we hold dear–truly humbled--that brings us to the point where we are grateful for the gift of our lives. But here’s the proverbial “rub”:
What is the focus of such gratitude?
Is our gratitude simply for life itself?
Or, is our gratitude extended to the Giver of life?
Is there a difference?
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines gratitude as, “Having a due sense of benefits received; kindly disposed toward one from whom a favor has been received; willing to acknowledge and repay, or give thanks for . . . a grateful heart.”
The problem is:
♦ When there is no appreciation of favor having been extended to us by a merciful God, we end up serving ourselves (or others) as we fulfill what has become popularly known as our, “bucket list”.
♦ With that, the benefits of gratitude and humility before a Holy God are totally lost on a world that is self-focused rather than esteeming God as Creator.
So what is our call?
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken,
and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship,
with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
LESSON FOUR: Remember that “tumble/crash” experienced on Monday? On Thursday morning, I was shocked to see a dark purple “shiner” around my right eye when I looked in the mirror. (Remember, I hit my head, not my eye!) Also, the shooting pains in my head were increasing, growing from those sparklers used to celebrate special holidays to an ice pick. Pride started to creep in when I thought about the Clients I had promised to see that day–should I cancel? I remembered the Thessalonians 5 passage that encouraged me on Monday, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances . . . .” With that, I started to put my makeup on extra thick–hoping they would not notice.
Of course, they did notice . . . but God was faithful in blessing both Sessions. However, towards the end of the second Session my head started to throb. I called my doctor; he sent me to the Emergency Room where I was immediately humbled when told, “Anyone in their sixties who hits their head needs to have a CT-scan.” I was also told, “The idea that being fifty or sixty is ‘the new forty’ is a lie–period.” I was too miserable to argue. Thankfully, they found no fractures or blood clots formed so I was released to go home.
Since then, I learned that the flight may have exacerbated my symptoms. In any case, even though I did not hit my eye when I fell, I did enough damage in my head to cause the internal bleeding to move to the soft tissue around my eye.
So what have I learned about gratitude and humility from all of this?
- l am grateful for how the accident caused me to slow down enough these past ten days to begin thinking about their importance before God.
- I guess it all boils down to the reminder in Lesson Three: “No Wallet, One Shoe, So Grateful . . . .” If God is the focus of our gratitude, our response will keep Him at the center of what we think, say or do.
All to His Glory!