We take a lot of things for granted each day. I know this because I take so much for granted myself. It seems like the month of November comes and suddenly people remember to recognize how thankful they are. This is a healthy exercise because we all have seen how quickly circumstances change and how quickly we forget all that we do have. I was pondering this at breakfast this morning as I read an article about the typhoon in the Philippines. Can I adequately wrap my mind around the devastation? Can I look outside my own little world to recognize the hurting masses on the other side of the world? What should I do about it from where I sit in the United States?
It was important for me to understand the human side of it. We all saw pictures of the storm and were amazed at the power. I know I saw it buried on some news website and thought how incredible it looked. I know I was mindful of the people, but I don’t know anyone there. Last year when we experienced a blizzard we lost power for a few days in the winter. Our house got down to about 40 degrees and we were greatly inconvenienced. That was a big deal to us despite the fact that no one was killed. We went to a friends house and slept by their wood stove. It was an inconvenience, but we lived. Now there is nothing wrong with recognizing the problems right in front of us. I just wonder if we all need to take a step back and consider some of the life or death challenges people are facing each day. Maybe the day that my coffee grinder failed to work was not as big of a deal as it seemed at the time. I did still have a home to live in and breath in my lungs, albeit no coffee.
I read a story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about a 20-year-old woman who had a baby only to watch it die as a result of this storm. This child suffocated to death because they had no electricity to insert a ventilator. The story talked about how she sat in the hospital chapel with her first-born baby’s body in a bag next to her. Can we even understand what sort of grief this woman is experiencing? That is just one of many.
This year I am making a new effort to be thankful to God for what I do have and to look around for ways to bless others within that. I think that is what Jesus meant when he told us to look after ‘the least of these’ around us. Each year my family has given to some sort of need as a Thanksgiving offering. It has never amounted to a large amount of money that was given, but it was never really intended to be. We have our kids give something to help people around the world because they need to look outward, as we all do. Last year it was for Hurricane Sandy relief and this year it will go to help those impacted by the typhoon in the Philippines through CAMA services. It is my hope that when we look at what we have and give it away that we get a vision for how we need to be willing to give that blessing away to other people. It starts with something small and grows to something much larger. We all have a part to play and we all have so much to be thankful for.
How do you highlight thankfulness during this time of year?