Cultivating a Heart of Gratitude

I was just reading the most recent letter from my friend and our brother in Christ who is incarcerated in the state prison in Corcoran. He again wanted me to thank you all for his glasses. They make all the difference in the world to him. He is so grateful for our help in getting him a good pair of glasses. He also prays for Walnut Creek Friends at 5:30 in the morning. As I learn more about prison life, it is the little things that make the biggest difference. Things like your own soap, new underwear, a razor that works, an opportunity to go outside, a few snacks of your own choice sent to you by a friend, paper and pens, a way to listen to your own music (or to block out other people’s music). We often think of the restrictions of prison in big terms, but it is all the little things that make prison crushing.

My son-in-law says the same things. He is confined to a wheelchair, having broken his neck. He cannot walk, run, play soccer or swim, etc. But as difficult as those realities are, it is often the little things that we take for granted that he speaks of the most, like taking a shower and feeling the warmth of the water on his skin, having personal privacy (he has none) and getting his own drink of water. He can’t even roll over in bed on his own.

I remember when my uncle was dying of pancreatic cancer, and had not been able to eat anything for a couple of months because his body would reject it. How he longed just to be able to eat a cheeseburger again … just one more time.

I know a woman who was born blind. She has never seen light, color, a face, or a rainbow.

Life is filled with little gifts, little freedoms, little joys, and little opportunities to enjoy what God has created. Often it is only when we lose them that we become aware of them. How much better to pay attention, to learn from the losses of others, and to thank God for the abundance of things He gives to us every day. God tells us in the Bible that acknowledging Him begins with thanksgiving (Romans 1:21). He also tells us that worshiping Him begins with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4), and that the Christian life is to be a life of thanksgiving (Hebrews 12:28).

I would like to encourage you to spend some time over the next few days taking notice of the little things around you that you appreciate, that you depend on, that you may be taking for granted, and to thank God for them. Find some things for which you have never thanked God before, and give Him your real, heartfelt thanks. Rejoice in God’s goodness to you in Christ Jesus, for all of His goodness comes to us through Jesus.

- Steve Diehl