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Thank God I’ve Got Fingers and Toes

Written By Stacy Joy, USA

I will never forget pulling away from a leprosy colony in Southern India the summer of 2003. I was 13 then and had just helped my family conduct a worship service for a couple dozen Christians in the colony.

As our car bumped along the terrifyingly narrow, one-lane mountain road, I vividly remember looking at my fingers, studying them for a couple of moments and then letting my gaze fall to my feet, and then to my toes. That quiet moment felt like it lasted forever as I became lost in my thoughts. I softly whispered, “Thank you, God, that I have fingers and toes.”

My view of thankfulness radically changed that day.

 

It is a way of life

Thanking God isn’t just a prayer before dinner; it is a way of life. I realized that nothing is guaranteed to me—not even the limbs on my body. As we walked among the lepers in India, my 13-year-old eyes fell upon limbs rotting away as people still lived. My narrow, westernized view of what life owed me shattered, and I realized that I had never thanked God for the simple, beautiful blessings I have surrounding me each and every day.

To have the ability to stop within the craziness of life and thank God for the breeze, the trees, the beauty of sunlight, the ability to walk, even to see—it’s a life-giving spiritual discipline that can easily be overlooked. Chuck Swindoll, a well-known American pastor, said that thankfulness is a decision of the will—one which takes work.

God created us to live a life of thankfulness. 1 Thessalonians 5 calls believers to give thanks in every circumstance. This is not Jesus’ idea of a self-help theory. He knew that thankfulness does something to our very being, to our soul. It psychologically and spiritually decreases stress, anxiety, and worry.

 

It removes worry, fear and anxiety

I am currently working toward an advanced degree in counseling, and the more I study, the more I realize that training oneself to live a life saturated in thankfulness is one of the greatest ways to remove worry, fear and anxiety. This is not merely a psychological tool. It is a spiritual reality discussed in Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (emphasis added).

The passage doesn’t end there. It goes on to say that after we have presented our requests, worries and anxieties to God (which, by the way, shows a trust in His sovereignty and His will for one’s life), peace that transcends our understanding is promised! That is a beautiful, exciting and powerful promise.

 

It changes the way we see challenges.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian who was killed in a Nazi Concentration camp for opposing Hitler, once said, “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” If a man persecuted and living in a concentration camp is able to utter those words, then may we all be prompted to remember all of the things—both small and large—that God has bestowed upon us, and thank Him for them.

Pastor and author John MacArthur sums it up aptly: “A thankful heart . . . stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.”

Would you join me this month and intentionally thank God for something different each day? Try it out for a while—I guarantee it will forever change your ability to see beauty amidst pain, suffering, and even the humdrum of daily living.

ODB: Taking Notice

February 27, 2016 

READ: Job 40:1-14 

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”

Job 38:4

 

When I clean my house for a special event, I become discouraged because I think that guests won’t notice what I clean, only what I don’t clean. This brings to mind a larger philosophical and spiritual question: Why do humans more quickly see what’s wrong than what’s right? We are more likely to remember rudeness than kindness. Crimes seem to receive more attention than acts of generosity. And disasters grab our attention more quickly than the profound beauty all around us.

But then I realize I am the same way with God. I tend to focus on what He hasn’t done rather than on what He has, on what I don’t have rather than on what I have, on the situations that He has not yet resolved rather than on the many He has.

When I read the book of Job, I am reminded that the Lord doesn’t like this any more than I do. After years of experiencing prosperity, Job suffered a series of disasters. Suddenly those became the focus of his life and conversations. Finally, God intervened and asked Job some hard questions, reminding him of His sovereignty and of everything Job didn’t know and hadn’t seen (Job 38–40).

Whenever I start focusing on the negative, I hope I remember to stop, consider the life of Job, and take notice of all the wonders God has done and continues to do.

— Julie Ackerman Link

What has the Lord done for you this week? Share it with us at facebook.com/ourdailybread

ODB: The Ease of Ingratitude

February 14, 2016 

READ: Hebrews 12:18-29 

Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful.

Hebrews 12:28

 

Thwip, thwap. Thwip, thwap.

The windshield wipers slamming back and forth trying to keep up with the pelting rain only added to my irritation as I adjusted to driving the used car I had just purchased—an old station wagon with 80,000+ miles and no side-impact airbag protection for the kids.

To get this station wagon, and some badly needed cash for groceries, I had sold the last “treasure” we owned: a 1992 Volvo station wagon with side-impact airbag protection for the kids. By then, everything else was gone. Our house and our savings had all disappeared under the weight of uncovered medical expenses from life-threatening illnesses.

“Okay, God,” I actually said out loud, “now I can’t even protect my kids from side-impact crashes. If anything happens to them, let me tell You what I’m going to do . . .”

Thwip, thwap. Thwip, thwap. (Gulp.)

I was instantly ashamed. In the previous 2 years God had spared both my wife and my son from almost certain death, and yet here I was whining about “things” I had lost. Just like that I’d learned how quickly I could grow ungrateful to God. The loving Father, who did not spare His own Son so I could be saved, had actually spared my son in a miraculous fashion.

“Forgive me, Father,” I prayed. Already done, My child.

— Randy Kilgore

How easy it is, Lord, to let the trials of the moment strip us of the memory of Your protection and provision. Praise You, Father, for Your patience and Your unending, unconditional love.


Thankfulness is the soil in which joy thrives.

 

ODB: Just the Ticket

December 9, 2015 

READ: Ephesians 1:1-10 

In him we have . . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7

 

When a police officer stopped a woman because her young daughter was riding in a car without the required booster seat, he could have written her a ticket for a traffic violation. Instead, he asked the mother and daughter to meet him at a nearby store where he personally paid for the needed car seat. The mother was going through a difficult time and could not afford to buy a seat.

Although the woman should have received a fine for her misdemeanor, she walked away with a gift instead. Anyone who knows Christ has experienced something similar. All of us deserve a penalty for breaking God’s laws (Eccl. 7:20). Yet, because of Jesus, we experience undeserved favor from God. This favor excuses us from the ultimate consequence for our sin, which is death and eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23). “In [Jesus] we have . . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph. 1:7).

Some refer to grace as “love in action.” When the young mother experienced this, she later remarked, “I will be forever grateful! . . . And as soon as I can afford it I will be paying it forward.” This grateful and big-hearted response to the officer’s gift is an inspiring example for those of us who have received the gift of God’s grace!

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Dear Father, thank You for giving us what we don’t deserve. You have forgiven my sins and provided a way for me to be reconciled to You through the gift of Your Son. Help me to always be grateful for Your grace.


God’s gift is grace.