“If all my possessions were taken away, it would still be a wonderful day.”
Many years ago, the choir at our home church sang a song with these words. They are the only words I remember because every time the song was sung, my husband would say something to the affect of, “You know, we sing that song with a smile on our faces, and we say ‘amen,’ but do we really mean it? Would we be happy if we lost everything in one day?” I made an important decision. I quit singing that song. I didn’t want to test the waters. The question still remains though. Would I praise the Lord and keep on serving with a grateful heart?
We say that our contentment comes from Christ alone; but, sadly, our happiness is often based on outward circumstances or our possessions. Notice I include myself here. I get upset when things don’t go my way or I don’t get all the things I feel like I “deserve.”
Burkina Faso, where we live and work, has been classified as one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the lowest literacy rates; yet, I am privileged to know people who find their joy from what really matters. One such lady lives in the village of Rungou, where we traveled a few weeks ago. The pastor gave an opportunity for the people to give prayer requests or praises before the service began, and she stood up and began to speak. She spoke in a tribal language, which I have learned only bits and pieces of; however, I understood her first few words, “I want to thank God…..” She didn’t have a nice house, bed, running water, AC, or a stockpile of food in the pantry or fridge. Her clothes are always tattered and stained. Her children run around barefooted and even she works on her feet all day wearing only flip-flops. They are often swollen and cracked. When the missionary donated hand-me-down clothes, her older children wore the onsies unsnapped at the bottom happy to wear their new “shirts.” This lady doesn’t have access to decent healthcare or even just a toothbrush. She lives in a simple mud hut and gets by from day to day. She gets up around four in the morning and does the chores, pounding out grains, leaves, or other ingredients in what looks like an oversized mortar and pestle to prepare what you would consider a very bland meal. She also must walk quite a distance to draw water that you would be scared to drink. Most of us would wonder what she has to thank God for.
The reality is this sweet lady has received the Lord as her Saviour. She has so many spiritual blessings as well as a wonderful life beyond this world to be thankful for. She began coming to this work right after it started in 2005 and was one of the first to get saved and baptized. A little while after coming forward for salvation, my husband gave an invitation and she again raised her hand. This time, however, she grabbed the hand of a friend and came forward. He wondered if she didn’t understand salvation or misinterpreted his question. (That happens sometimes.) A young preacher asked her if she came to get saved, and she replied, “I have already been saved. Today, I just wanted to bring my friend to the Lord.” She had found something special that she wanted to share. Every time we travel to the village, she greets us with a smile on her face that comes only from true joy in her heart, even though her life is not an easy one.
I am afraid that those of us who live in more “developed” countries have forgotten how to be really thankful. Yes, we should appreciate our material blessings, but if all that were stripped away what would we cling to? We pride ourselves on our education, but we need to take a few lessons from some sweet people who have never gone to school or stepped foot out of the village. Have you come to God, acknowledged that Jesus took your punishment on the cross, confessed your sins, and asked Him to take them away? If you have, you have received the absolute best gift ever. Having all the latest gadgets in the world is nothing compared to what we got the moment Jesus came into ur life. We are children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We have an eternal prize that NOTHING can take away. We get too busy on our computers, running off to various activities, watching TV, shopping or just caught up in other things to even stop and think about all He has done for us, much less even stop to tell Him thanks.
True gratitude engenders giving and service. As poor as she is, almost every time we go to the village, the lady I mentioned above sends us home with a huge bag of peanuts from her field. She sees it as her way of helping take care of the man who came to share the gospel with her. She knows we can afford to buy peanuts, but she wants to give with a willing heart. One of her first acts of service was trying to bring her friend to Christ. How are we showing our gratitude to the ONE who paid such a high price for us? Are we doing all we can to share Him with others? Are we giving all we’ve got to see the Great Commission carried out?
Let us not forget, as we say how thankful we are this week, to show our gratitude to the only one who is worthy by serving Him in whatever capacity we can.
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:12,13