April 19, 2017
An Attitude of Gratitude
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. – Jeremiah 29:11
For six years I wondered whether God had designated Laramie, Wyoming, as a Winter Misery Testing Site. I arrived in Laramie in the month of February on a cold winter morning, and it felt like the temperature was below survival level. Welcome to Wyoming! When I had left Nairobi, Kenya, a few days before, the thermometer read around one hundred degrees.
They told me in Wyoming that I should expect two seasons: the Fourth of July and winter. One friend said that snow could be expected during any month except July. Making matters worse, the snow problem was always amplified by wind. The speed of the wind was phenomenal. There was no need for raking and bagging leaves in the fall—Wyoming winds blew them to Nebraska and Colorado!
The winter conditions of Wyoming were awful, and I looked forward to the day I would leave. That happened about six years later, when I moved to Idaho to work on an ecological project for a power company which generated its electricity mainly by water power. The main source of the water was snow. Indeed, my very livelihood depended on snow. Soon, I joined the others at the Idaho Power in praying for snow, especially given that there had been snow scarcity for about six years prior to my coming. Even the decorations on the Christmas tree that year were centered around the theme “Let It Snow!”
The following year, forest fires covered the Treasure Valley with smoke, and the air was stifling. Migraine headaches became a problem for me, thus prompting me to wish for the Wyoming winds. I thought, If only we had some of the wind from Wyoming, I wouldn’t have migraine headaches!
These experiences are just some of the many that have helped me to understand today’s focus verse. It affirms that God always has something good planned for us, no matter how bad our situation may seem. Sometimes our attitude of gratitude is impaired because we are focusing on the negatives in our lives. We only see the freezing snow and brutal winds, without realizing that the snow and wind have benefits, too. Instead, when everything seems to go wrong, we can think about the blessings we have from God that will never go away—the peace in our hearts from knowing we are saved, and the hope of Heaven. And consider the possibility that somebody else’s prayers are being answered by the conditions we find inconvenient. When we focus on the positive and thank God despite prevailing circumstances, we will have an attitude of gratitude, which is pleasing to God.
Each of us can cultivate an attitude of gratitude by thanking God for the specific blessings He has given us: fresh air, unpolluted water, three meals a day, shelter, freedom, health, jobs, opportunities to be creative, and chances to enrich the world with our uniqueness. Even when things go wrong, the list of things to be grateful for is endless! No one can be ordered to have an attitude of gratitude, but it is contagious. It can flow naturally from parents to children and from one friend to another. By choosing to remember and dwell on the good things God is doing in our lives, we encourage others to do the same.