One of the virtues I love in anyone is gratitude. No matter the person’s situation, when thankfulness is seen or expressed, it is beautiful. Ken and I have such fond memories of ministering in Zimbabwe. The one area in particular that we used to go to regularly in Zimbabwe taught me something about gratitude that touched me to the deepest place.
The accommodation was very rustic. We stayed in mud huts, which had a space for windows but did not have a window. To bathe, we were given water in a zinc tub. The people had very little and were considered very poor by some people. Yet they had such joy. Many children wore very worn clothing, and most did not have shoes. But seldom have we experienced hosting as we did there. I remember our first dinner there. When we arrived, we went to the dining room. It was a hut with a long table and some chairs. None of the plates, silverware, etc., matched. Instead, people from the community had brought what they had to share. We were given what would have been an extremely costly meal in that community and served like royalty. Then we were shown where we would be sleeping. It was a genuinely humbling experience.
All the people in that Kraal (a group of huts belonging to one family) moved into the kitchen area, where they slept on the floor so we could sleep in their huts. The dear lady that owned that Kraal was about 70 and moved out to sleep on the floor so we could sleep in her bed. Our teen kids slept in beds, and the 70-year-old lady was on the floor. It is hard to know what to do with that kind of giving. Our dear friend, Samson, said we needed to accept all this kindness. At about 4 AM, the people would be up to begin preparing for us. First was the mile walk to the water pump to get water for us. The water was for cooking, drinking, and for us to bathe. The water was carried in a bucket. You can imagine how many trips it took to supply all the needs.
The children were responsible for this. We had about ten people in our group and the family living there who all needed water. These amazing people, who had so very little, gave more than almost anyone I had known. The generosity of the people was incredible. One lady, for example, had brought six eggs to add to the food supply to feed us. It was all the food she had for the next week. I can honestly say that we went home having learned so much more than we had taught. The people’s faces shone with joy and thankfulness that we had come. We were relieved we had brought so much food enabling the family we lived with and most of this community to take food home. But they had given without knowing that.
When walking in our front door after that trip, we opened the door, and our daughter, Chantelle, switched on the lights. She paused and said, “We have so much.” We poured a glass of water, and gratitude rose from the deepest place. We had to walk a few steps and turn on a tap.
We can often become used to what we have and look for even more in our day-to-day lives. There is nothing wrong with that, but let us always take time to see everything we have, from running water to homes. Let us be thankful for family and friends, even when they don’t understand us:) There is so much to be grateful for every moment of the day. But of course, mainly for God the Father, Jesus our Savior, and Holy Spirit. When things happen, and life gets hard, take a moment to consider the love of God and how Jesus gave his life for us, and thank Him for all you can think of. With family, friends, and those around us, take time to express gratitude to each of them. Let people know just how thankful you are. A life lived from a place of thankfulness is usually accompanied by joy as your heart is moved by what God does, what people do, what you have, the beauty around you, etc.
The same life lived without gratitude causes one to see what they don’t have, their lack. Entitlement creeps in comparison to what others have, and so on. Life does not look good when seen through that lens. It is up to us to look and see all we have around us and choose gratitude. Matthew 6:22 (MSG) says, “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.” Then Psalm 34:5 (NIV) says, Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Let us always choose to look to God and choose thankfulness.
Let me encourage us all with a few well-known scriptures to help us live from this place and how the blessings flow when we see them.
COLOSSIANS 2:6-7 (NKJV) “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 (TPT ) “Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.”
PSALM 95:1-5 (NKJV) “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth’ the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.”
PSALM 118:24 (ESV) “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”