by Susan Sparks–
Our church is famous for its catchy signs on the marquee out front. Some of my favorites include: “What happens in Vegas is forgiven here.”
“Lower your expectations and claim a victory!”
“The secret to life is to eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.”
“Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.”
While the texting-Jesus sign definitely wins the “most funny” award, the “most poignant” award goes to a sign with a question we posted last year: “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”
That one stopped me in my tracks. What if that did happen? What would our world look like?
Let’s think about it. What did you thank God for yesterday? Anything? Can you remember? The reality is that for many of us, if that scenario came true, our tomorrow would be one bleak world.
IT’S HARD TO REMEMBER
Let me back up. A word in our defense: It’s hard to remember to be grateful when hardship stares us in the face. We’ve had a long, hard winter, and months and months of lockdown thanks to spiraling COVID-19 numbers. For more than a year, our family gatherings have been canceled or drastically downsized. Our economy has been hit, our confidence has been shaken, and we are surrounded by daily headlines that leave little room for gratitude.
So what does one do? There’s an old saying: We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails. Author and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl put it this way: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
WATCH FOR IT
With every negative, there is a positive, and if we look hard enough, we’ll see it. Here is a simple example. This morning I opened the refrigerator to get milk for my coffee. It was in the very back, behind stacks of other food. As I mumbled about having to reach past guacamole, sour cream, leftover rice and two bins of blueberries, it dawned on me: There are others who would give anything to have a refrigerator packed with food. Just like that, the negative became a positive.
How about the alarm clock? While most of us cringe when it goes off, we can also give thanks. Hearing an alarm clock ring means you woke up to another day! It means your hearing works, your eyes can focus, you have
a bed and you have a roof over your head. It probably means you have electricity (many people in this world do not). And the ring of that alarm clock probably also means you have a job or work to do. At a minimum, it means you have a reason to get up.
Or maybe you are coming to terms with not cooking a traditional Easter dinner or traveling to see family (perhaps for the second year in a row). Think of all the years spent grumbling about the stress of cooking and dealing with traffic! Maybe now you can see past the grumbling to the true blessings of food and family that you enjoyed.
So back to my question: What did you thank God for yesterday? Anything? If you focused your time on what went wrong, go back and find the positive. Then offer a prayer of thanks. (I believe God accepts retroactive
prayers.) Be grateful in all things. Remember the words of one of our most recent church signs:
“There are people who would love to have your bad days.”
The Rev. Susan Sparks is a trial lawyer turned preacher, stand-up comedian and author. Read her blog
I too am a glutton; my meaning-never happy with what I have; always want more, or other. This time has taught me to be grateful for all the little things; a squirrel eating in my yard; the neighbors’ dogs playing; children laughing; my extended family of kids having fun and laughing, but mostly my deficiencies such as not laughing enough, having a dog, never watching for squirrels in my yard. God has always given me so much that I forgot to look at the simple things I take for granted. I pray that I will not forget the joy in life; the simple gifts I receive every day from God. Thank you God for these and the many things I take for granted every day.
My third (don’t judge because you don’t know the circumstances) and very best loving, generous, caring husband!! 33 years and loving strong.