Ever get up to leave a room to go get something only to get where you know you were going and forget what it was you went in there for? Mildly frustrating would be one way I would describe it. I'm standing there in the room. I know I'm here to get something, and yet it is as though whatever it was I went there to get is now playing a game of hide and seek with me, laughing uncontrollably from behind some object in the room.
Forgetting can be a good and a bad thing. On the good side, it is good if we can forget how someone wronged us, or forget some small debt that we just chalk up to charity. On the bad side, well, let's just say some people seem to have memories that never go away and are all too eager to remind others about events of the past.
There is another type of forgetfulness though that goes on every second of every day, and it happens to each and every one of us whether we realize it or not. It is when we forget to be thankful.
This last couple of weeks now, I have been fighting an illness that literally left me on my back some few days pleading for the return of Christ just so I could finally get a new body. I'm not going to go into all the details, but let's just say it was really bad. Thing is, I'm constantly thanking God for my family, for my health, and for the things God has provided. However, I never really realized just exactly what I was thanking God for until it was gone.
I slept off most of the sickness, but in my moments of wakefulness feeling weak and exhausted, it occurred to me again and again that it was not necessarily the presence of health I had been really thanking God for, it was the absence of all THIS - the sickness. Now, with my health gone, it became the most important thing I wanted at that moment. All my other plans that week that I had lined out to be accomplished just didn't seem to compare to my desire just to feel well again.
As the week progressed, the news each night hit me a little bit differently than before. News is usually bad anyway, but now I was watching it with a different perspective. Where being sick made me realize that what I had been thanking God for was not so much health but the absence of sickness, I saw images on the news that made me realize a few other things. You see, in thanking God for my health each day, at some point I had actually forgotten what it felt like to be really sick - until my health was suddenly gone from me. So, instead of thanking God for my home, my job, my family, and "all the wonderful things He has given me", I'm going to try something a little bit different.
I am thankful that my home is not a pile of rubble destroyed by a hurricane a couple months just before Christmas. I am thankful that I do not have to sit in the dark and cold, and that my home is not missing heat or electricity. I am thankful that I am not burying a child or other loved one who died because of a storm. I am thankful I do not have to stand in long lines to pay for food or gasoline - at any price. I am thankful I do not have to run and hide in a shelter when air raid sirens scream warnings that missiles are in the air heading towards my town. I am thankful I am not one of over 18,000 people who cannot go to work because my company has closed.
In short, I am also thankful for getting sick these past weeks, and for the perspective it helped me realize: it is not good enough just to be thankful for what you have. That is easy. However, if you really want to experience the kind of gratitude that comes with a new perspective, imagine life without those things. Imagine your life in the news today.