A NEW NORM OF GRATITUDE?
“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
“…Neither were they thankful…” Paul in diagnosing Rome’s moral sickness and perverted culture. Romans 1:21
“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address, 1865, quoting Psalm 19:9
War has a way of bringing us to our knees. It reminds us to be thankful for peace when it finally comes. The dark night helps us to give thanks for the rising dawn. Pestilences cause appreciation for blessings.
Towards the end of the terrible scourge of the Civil War in which 620,000 of America’s finest young men died, Abraham Lincoln issued a decree calling for the whole Union to mark a day especially for prayers of thanksgiving. This is the origin of Thanksgiving Day—modeled after the early Pilgrims’ feast. Here is what that declaration said in part, reminding the Union of:
“These bounties which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come…”
Soon the corona virus quarantine and its national shutdown will be history. Will we learn from it? When we all re-emerge from our shelter-at-home bunkers, will we have gained a new spirit of thankfulness for all God’s blessings on America? Will we be grateful to live in the country that the whole world wants to live in? Or will the spirit of ingratitude and the culture of entitlement still be the norm?
As a student in college, away from home, I ended up with more days in the month than I had money. JoAn and I were flat broke. She had a full ride scholarship, but that did not pay for groceries. Forget calling home. My dad had recently suffered a heart attack. I wasn’t going to bother him. Payday from our student jobs was still two weeks away. We had no money.
I was upset with God, wondering how He could let this happen. Anyway, we prayed a meager prayer for provision, hoping for a miracle. The next morning I went to our campus post office. One letter waited in our mailbox, postmarked Baytown. I didn’t know anyone in Baytown. This letter happened to come from an older gentleman in our home church in Houston. It contained a short note: “Thought you might need this.”
The note was wrapped around a money order. It was not a large amount, but sufficient for groceries to tide us over till payday. Later, back home in Houston, I discovered that the friend who sent it was on his delivery route in Baytown. That’s exactly when he heard the Lord directing him to the Post Office to send us that money order. We received it the next day. To us, that money order was huge! It was a miracle from the Lord. That incident marked me.
I have never taken for granted the cash in my pocket since that morning. We are thankful for every measure of prosperity, for every blessing.
I have also come to realize that man’s most basic moral failing is his attitude of ingratitude. I have been in mission work in the back country of Nicaragua among people who subsist in cardboard and tin shanties with dirt floors. Yet their outpouring of gratitude has amazed me as I’ve handed them a sack of flour, coffee, and beans. But here in the USA I have been met at times with crass ingratitude and downright arrogant entitlement whenever I gave someone the help he needed.
But I remain hopeful that good will come out of this terrible plague—if indeed a new spirit of gratitude emerges from it. So cheer up and be grateful. In the immortal world of Little Orphan Annie, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow, betcha bottom dollar!” Copy Annie’s attitude of gratitude. Give thanks!
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