It is customary in my church to hold “fast and testimony meeting” every first Sunday of the month. It is called fast meeting because church members fast two meals and donate what would have been the cost of those meals to the church for the care of the poor and needy and to provide humanitarian service throughout the world. Since the church has approximately 15 million members, that adds up to millions of dollars to be used exclusively for that purpose.
It is called testimony meeting because the service is turned over to the members of the congregation to bear their testimonies and to express their gratitude for blessings received. This month the meeting was of special interest to me.
One of the members of the congregation used to work as an emergency medical technician. One day while responding to a highway accident he was struck by a passing car and seriously injured. Several surgeries and long-term medical intervention have left him able to walk with the aid of a cane but the pain in his back is an ever present reminder of that day.
This man walked up to the podium and said he used to ask himself and God, “Why me?” “Now,” he said, “I ask, ‘why not me?’” He expressed his gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father and for his faithful and supportive wife and their three young children. Sitting behind them in the meeting, it was obvious to me that they are a close-knit unit.
What appeared to me to be a small child walked to the podium and, with the aid of a booster stool, was able to speak into the microphone. I was not acquainted with this person—she was either a visitor or had recently moved into the area. Although she was twenty-six years old she stood less than four feet tall. What a cheerful and delightful little lady she turned out to be. Among other things, she thanked God for the privilege of having a body and to have been born in such favorable circumstances.
Shortly after these two spoke, a young man with seriously deformed legs hobbled up to the stand with the aid of crutches. When it was his turn, he ambled to the podium and expressed his gratitude for his body. “You might not hear me say this again,” he said. “But I am thankful for this body. Because of my condition I have been blessed to have met many wonderful people that, otherwise, I probably would never have met.”
I am privileged to know this young man and to converse with him on a regular basis. Although he will never earn a Heisman trophy, he can give you the latest stats on nearly every NFL team and many college football teams. He is cheerful, thoughtful and an all-round good guy. He is the oldest of eight children.
I couldn’t help but think as I heard each speak in turn, that every one of them could have been bitter and resentful at the hand that each has been dealt. But instead of pity or despair, each one expressed his or her gratitude to God for blessings received. What a great example.
Have you ever groaned, as I have, when you get up in the morning and hate the thought of going to work that day? In reality, we should thank our Creator for the privilege of living another day and being able to go do something productive. Charles Kingsley perhaps said it best:
“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and, a hundred virtues which the idle never know.”
Lloyd O. Ivie said, “It is harder to be thankful for that which we have always possessed than for that which God sends us in the hour of our need.”
Three different people. Three thankful hearts. Three great examples of Christ-like gratitude.