As most of you know, here in the United States we are celebrating Thanksgiving this week. I realize that this Tip goes to many other countries where a holiday similar to Thanksgiving is celebrated at different times. Regardless of where you live and when you celebrate it, Thanksgiving is a good time to remember to be thankful and grateful for everything that you have in life. I have often been reminded that success in life has everything to do with an attitude of gratitude. When a person has a good attitude and a grateful heart, it seems to open doors of opportunity for them that would never be opened otherwise. Not many people who are bitter and ungrateful have prospered very much in their life.
Years ago, I heard the story of an Englishman by the name of Matthew Henry. He was a preacher and well-known Bible scholar who lived from 1662 to 1714. His exposition of the Old and New Testament is a commentary that is still in print to this very day. He was known for his practical application, combined with a well-sustained flow of English literature. Perhaps that is what made the commentary one of the best works of its kind.
One day Matthew Henry was riding his horse through the woods. He was on his way to a church meeting where he was going to be the guest speaker. Suddenly, a masked bandit ran out of the woods with a gun in his hand and demanded that Matthew Henry get off his horse. Mr. Henry obeyed the robber, as he knew this was a dangerous situation. Even though he tried to talk to the man about God and spiritual matters, the bandit would hear none of it. He quickly took all of Matthew Henry’s money and ran back into the woods. It all happened so quickly that Matthew Henry hardly had time to realize what had happened. Although he was now penniless, he got back on his horse and continued his journey.
His mind took him to the thought that we are supposed to give thanks in everything that happens to us. He asked God how he was supposed to be thankful for being robbed! As he continued on his way, the answer came to him. That night he told the story to his audience about what had happened to him earlier in the day. He concluded his message by sharing several different reasons he could be thankful for what had happened to him.
“First,” he said, “I am thankful I have never been robbed before. Second, I am thankful he took my money and not my life. Third, I am thankful he did not take more; he could have taken my horse and my clothes as well. Next, I am thankful that what I had stolen from me really did not amount to very much. Then I am grateful that what I lost, in time, could all be replaced. But, finally, and most importantly, I am thankful that I was the one robbed and not the robber!”
Isn’t that a fantastic attitude of thankfulness and gratitude? I remember reading that story years ago and thinking, “I want to be that kind of person.” Not that I want to put myself in harm’s way and constantly have bad things happen to me! But, I want to be the kind of person who looks for the good, the pure, and the positive in everything that happens in my life. If I believed that life was just a series of meaningless, random events that haphazardly happened to me, I think I would live in a constant state of depression. I truly believe that life has its way of teaching me what it wants me to know. If I will look for ways to have a grateful heart and be thankful, I will find them, just as Matthew Henry did so long ago. Again, an “attitude of gratitude” always carries the day!
During this time of Thanksgiving, let me encourage you to look at even the most difficult, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching situations that you may be facing right now and look for ways that you can be grateful for what has taken place in your life. During our darkest moments there is still good to be found.
The last time I was in Israel our guide Moshe, told us the holocaust was a terrible thing, yet out of it came the nation of Israel. “Without the holocaust we would never have had a homeland and nation for our people!” That is the attitude I am talking about! I cannot completely control what happens to me, but I can control how I respond to those things!
I do not know about you, but I have discovered that having a thankful heart really is the basis for everything good that happens in my life, and it opens doors of opportunity that I never could have imagined otherwise. Have a thankful heart and it will open doors of opportunity for you, as well!
Tip: There is always something for which you can be thankful!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm