November 24, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

My wife, Chantal, was panting hard and pushing, in the middle of giving birth to our oldest daughter. We were in the office of a small private practice in Peru, no heart monitor and fancy gadgets around. The baby had been stuck in the birth canal for more than 40 minutes, and I could see that our experienced doctor was getting nervous. I was scared, and my wife was running out of energy to keep pushing. Would we pull out a dead child?
Many things can go wrong in pregnancy and birth. The more I read about possible complications in the life of a human being during the first nine months (disregarding, for a moment, potential genetic disorders), the more I realize it is a miracle that I have three healthy daughters. I still remember my overwhelming sense of gratitude when the doctor finally pulled out our Hannah and she gave the first quiet whimper. I was so thankful. I wanted to hug the whole world.
2010 1538 page6Thanksgiving time is a moment to say “thank you.” While I claim ignorance to all the cultural and religious connotations associated with celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A., I love the reminder to say “Thank you.” Here is a list of some of the people in my church and family to whom I would like to show my appreciation. Perhaps you can think of many more—take the time to say “thank you” to them.
Thank you, pastor, for looking after my spiritual needs and giving me a call when I am struggling. Thank you, Adventist teacher, for believing in Adventist education, going the extra mile with struggling students, and pointing them beyond academics to Jesus. Thank you, faithful Sabbath school teacher, for loving my children to the throne of grace and investing so much of yourself to make those 60 minutes every Sabbath morning interesting, engaging, and life-changing. Thank you, Adventist musicians, for your creativity and often overlooked time investment in practicing that special item so that God’s Spirit can speak to my heart during the Sabbath morning worship hour. Thank you, church ladies, for valiantly cooking up a storm every Friday afternoon (as if you had nothing else to do), so that we can enjoy a wonderful time of fellowship during our shared meal. Thank you, Pathfinder leaders, for filling the minds of my children with constant hints to a Creator God who loves beauty, diversity, and colors. Thank you, kind money people of our church, for always finding a way of putting mission—God’s mission—first and foremost.
I cannot end this editorial without thanking my wonderful life companion for her great work with our three girls when I am traveling or am busy with “important” church business. Thank you for your patience and capacity to listen beyond the words. Thank you for your committed love to the God of Scripture and your creative ways of supporting our ministry. Thank you, girls, for your willingness to spend 14 fascinating days this past summer holed up in a hotel in Atlanta, and your cheerful and enthusiastic participation in our ministry as an Adventist Review staff family.
Now I could go on and on, but I think you already get the point. I am sure you are already making a mental list of those to whom you would like to show your appreciation. Take the time now—not tomorrow. The apostle Paul reminds us that gratitude is not seasonal, limited to a couple of days in late November. Gratitude is an attitude, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:20, NASB).*
*Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Gerald A. Klingbeil is associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published November, 25, 2010.