Finding ways to use our biggest blessings

Gratefulness is an attitude that comes from the heart. This time of year, gratitude arises as one anticipates the arrival of Thanksgiving, especially when family and friends come together to make the event memorable. We are so happy to be with people who truly matter to us!

This year, the list of things to be thankful for is growing. Having reached yet another digital milestone in people years, beating the odds for another year seems easy, at best. In a light-hearted way of saying we haven’t yet passed on, a friend who lived two decades beyond my years usually said something about checking every morning to see if one had not assumed room temperature.

Anyone who is able to check whether their body is warm has already beaten the odds.

Gratefulness arises and translates into action when the heart is thankful that God, in his boundless mercy and grace, has given us more time on this earth to appreciate his goodness, and invites us to acknowledge how much we depend on him for life.

Fully aware of this truth and my mortality, it gives me pause to think how this blessing of life can be used. When I look around what do I see? What is my response when an individual struggles with a disability, or when an individual cannot afford to fix something as simple as a pair of glasses? What is my response, even if I am also burdened with struggles of my own?

This lesson learned, gleaned from fading memories of long ago, shines like a beacon of hope and is even more compelling as we face an uncertain future in the agricultural economy, which is vitally important to our community.

Flashback to the early 80s; while sitting in the ICU waiting room at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, MO., I observed a young mother reading her Bible. This was my “home” away from home for the past week while our daughter was recovering from yet another round of surgery. It was very late, and staff was minimal. A short conversation later revealed her husband delivered his spouse and their sick daughter to the hospital entrance and said, “I never want to see you again. Do not come home. Bye.” Picking up her Bible, she said, this is all I’ve got. It keeps me going.

Later in the week, I met her again. She ran into the waiting room with urgent news. Another single mom had not eaten for days because she had no money. “Paul, we have to do something!”

It was past 10:30 pm, and all cafeteria services were closed. We found a phone book and the only place within short driving distance was still open. We purchased a large Pizza and picked it up.

The young mother, who insisted we do something, also insisted on paying for half. She was destitute, with only about ten dollars in her pocket. Recently homeless and likely a victim of abuse, yet she saw a need worse than her own and wanted to help.

The aroma of pizza filled the car with its wonderful smell and two grateful people who were strangers until then, shared a meal with a mother who had nothing to eat.

The Bible story about the Good Samaritan became a living story that night. God works miracles, even through the lives of people who have almost nothing to give. We need not have much of the world’s wealth, but we do have much to give from the heart.

As we look around our world, thankful for the blessings we have received, though we may be struggling with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, perhaps we can become living examples of that goodness in another person’s life.

The goodness of God expresses itself through gratefulness of the heart.