2011-06-22 - A Lesson in Giving Thanks
I Thes 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Question to Consider: What are some things you've grown accustomed to having every day, that you rarely think much about? What do you think would happen if you temporarily lost access to these "creature comforts?" How would you feel? What would you do? What could you learn from such an experience?
A few weeks ago, several floors in my building flooded when a pipe exploded. Water ran down into the elevator shafts, which led to our having to take the stairs for a couple days. There are over fifteen floors in this building, so that was quite a hike for some folks. The other result was that we didn't have hot water for most of the week. We usually have an endless supply of it. I love a long shower in the morning, or bubble bath after a long day at work, so hot water is one of my favorite creature comforts. I have to admit that I did my share of complaining about the situation. I don't like climbing the stairs in my work shoes, but I'd do that gladly rather than bathing in cold water.
I know I'm spoiled. I know a lot of people live in countries where there is no such thing as clean hot water right from the tap. Some people have to carry water to their homes from streams or wells, and heat pot after pot, if they want a warm bath. I remember reading about how, years ago, families only bathed on Saturday nights to be clean for church the next day, because heating up all the water and filling the tubs was such an ordeal.
I am aware of those realities, but rarely think about it, when I can just turn a knob and instantly have as much water as I want at whatever temperature I want. If I lived in a different place or time, not having hot water would be a part of daily life for me, rather than it being something I expect and take for granted. Heating water on the stove to wash my hair made me really think about this. When the hot water was finally working again, I was so excited, you'd think it was Christmas morning, and I've been trying, ever since. to remember to be thankful for what I used to consider one of life's "little pleasures."
Then, I started thinking about the people who actually lived in the apartments that flooded. From what I understand, those rooms are unlivable right now, so I wonder where they're staying. I also wonder how much they lost in terms of possessions due to water damage. Not having hot water for a few days is such a minor inconvenience compared to what they're going through. I live above where the flooding took place, so I can still stay in my home, and I didn't lose anything important to me due to water damage. I was thankful that my home had been spared - but also realized how important it is that I pray for those who were more directly impacted by the situation.
Then I started thinking about victims of natural disasters, including the tsunami last year and Hurricane Katrina, and the massive devastation and loss of lives and homes. This is the closest I've ever been to anything remotely resembling something like that. What happened in this building is so small compared to those losses.
This experience has taught me more about not taking modern conveniences or luxuries for granted. It has made me thankful for what I have, and gives me the opportunity to pray for those in other countries, or even parts of the US, where there aren't simple things like hot water for bathing. I think about the people who've lost homes here and elsewhere in this country, and around the world, due to natural disasters. I can't imagine what it must be like to go through something like that, and I pray for those facing such life-changing and difficult situations. I pray that God would continue to use life circumstances to remind me to be thankful for all I have, and to pray for others.
Lord, help us not to take the things You've given us for granted. Give us thankful hearts and hearts that are sensitive to the needs and circumstances of others. Please help us to remember those who don't have access to even the little things we take for granted, like coffee in the morning or a working vehicle, or a safe home and clean hot water. Please help us to have teachable spirits, so we can learn from every situation we face, whether good or bad.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.