Her house was no bigger than four church folding tables put together. It also was not much taller than such folding tables. Yet, when the poor woman from India invited us off of our tour bus and into her home, she was so thankful to share with us all that she had.
She pointed to the beautiful print on a piece of fabric that helped to hold together her tarp and plywood walls. She proudly displayed the small propane stove (very similar to what I use to backpack) that she used daily to cook. She loved her home and was thankful for all that she had.
It was eye opening to say the least. The poor in the United States look like millionaires to a person like her (in the least many poor people in our area have a beat up car and a cell phone…wild luxuries in her eyes).
By all definitions of the word, she was poor, but somehow she failed to recognize that fact. Instead of focusing on what she did not have, she focused primarily on all that God had gifted her, and it brought her happiness.
How refreshing would that be, to have this woman feast at your Thanksgiving dinner table where this woman might genuinely comment on how wonderful the turkey is instead of Uncle Chuck’s yearly complaining about how the turkey, once again, has turned out too dry.
Thankfulness is not simply a spiritual task that we need to plod through every so often, or minimally once a year in order to satisfy our religious obligations to God. Rather, it is a response that springs right up from our souls when we genuinely realize all that God has done.
Do you have air to breath? Give thanks to God!
Do you have food for the day? Give thanks to God!
Were you able to stand up in the morning? Give thanks to God!
Do you have a savior who forgives you no matter how you stumble? Give thanks to God!
It can be argued that the opposite of thankfulness is worry.
If thankfulness is the recognition of how God has provided, then worry is the inability to see how God has provided. Worry consists of a chest pounding anxiety over what the future holds. There may be food for today, but will there be any for tomorrow? Will the future play out in your favor? Will your health hold out for another day? There are so many things about which to be worried and the worry is a sort of blinder on your eyes that does not allow you to see the gifts that surround you.
As worry and depression can be literally life-threatening as we have see in the horrible stories of suicide lately, Jesus has some very practical, life-saving advice for us.
Are you worried about clothing? Then go out into the field (or maybe a florist in the winter) and stare at some flowers. Do not just think about doing it, actually go out and do it. Stare at them. Meditate on them.
If God clothes these tiny life forms that are fixed to the soil so brilliantly, how much more will God cloth you with splendor. Maybe, God already has. Did you give thanks for the clothes you put on this morning? If not, take a look at it. It is a gift from God.
In the same way, birds do not clock in and out on a time clock. Yet, God gives them something to eat. Do you really think that God cares about you less than a little bird. Look at those birds chirping away out your windows in the morning. Listen to those birds. Actually do it and meditate on them.
Maybe you will realize the amount of delicious nourishment that God has provided. Even if it is not delicious, at least it is a gift of nourishment that keeps you alive…which is sometimes the greatest praise you can give some of our family cooks. Sorry, that is Uncle Chuck talking.
This invitation to pause, and look, and then truly see what God provides is a healing gift from Jesus that fights the demons of worry.
Pausing, looking, and seeing, leads to that amazing state of thankfulness in which that poor woman from India lived. Because of the gratitude that continually poured from her heart, nothing in life was closed off to her. She was not too poor to do anything. She was not too little to think big things. She was not too destitute to show off the gifts that she had been given. She lived a life free from the binding ropes of worry, and she shared that beautiful life with a bunch of young adults from the United States.
Take the time right now to enter into that gift from Jesus Christ, that invitation to pause, look, and see what God has provided. Pause right now, look at the gifts of your life, and see what God has done. Actually write them down down on a sticky note as a reminder for the coming days when the worry threatens. Hopefully you will think to look at it and remember once again that life is good and God is indeed good.