November 21, 2012

The Attitude of Gratitude

I recently heard a radio moderator tell a caller that she was tired of people whining and complaining about their difficulties. She assured the person that she could find numerous people who would agree to take the caller’s life, just as it currently was, and go out and make it a day filled with joy and gratitude.

I began thinking about that and wondering what it might look like. Perhaps something like this:

The one-and-a-half-hour commute to work each way is killing me; so much wasted time; so much stressful traffic; such sore, achy muscles. Why did the company I work for have to relocate?

I lost my job a year ago, and I’ve been unable to find another one. My wife has had to work two jobs just to keep us going. I would gratefully take your long commute, if I could provide for my family again.

2012 1533 page31How can I feel gratitude today? My home mortgage is being foreclosed, and we will soon lose 15 years of investment and be crammed into a tiny, two-bedroom apartment.

I’m homeless, and I would have no difficulty living in your apartment and would enjoy a warm room with a soft bed, a hot shower every morning, and clothes in the closet. I will gladly take your life today.

How can I find joy today? The price of groceries has skyrocketed, and we can barely afford to eat out anymore. The kids even have to pack their own school lunches now instead of buying hot meals.

I’m a widowed mom of seven from Paraguay and am reduced to begging on the streets and rummaging through garbage dumps to feed my little ones. I would gladly take your life today with its limited grocery budget and would find joy in buying simple, nourishing foods of beans, rice, and vegetables.

I was in a car accident and was left with a painful limp and an ugly orthopedic shoe. People rudely stare at me, and I’ve had to give up my dreams of playing professional basketball. 

I’m an American soldier just returning from Iraq. I too was in an accident. My tank was hit by a roadside bomb, leaving me fighting for my life and without either leg. I would gratefully take your life today—limp, funny shoe, and all.

I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and am facing expensive and painful treatments. I’m scared that I may die. 

I’m a teenager from South Africa who contracted AIDS at birth. I haven’t been able to afford medicines that would give me a fighting chance for recovery. I now have less than a week to live. I would gladly take your life today and find hope, as I undergo the treatments, that I may live to see another day.

I’m discouraged because my adult child has left the church and appears too busy to include God in her life. This burden is so heavy on my heart. How can I find any joy today?

I too am a Christian parent. My precious child committed suicide last year. I would gratefully change places with you today and find hope as I continue to pray with passion—if only my child were still alive to pray for.

My church is changing. The music style is different, the hymns are fewer, the number of empty pews is greater, and the people seem distant and critical. Going to church on Sabbath just isn’t the same anymore. I’m thinking about “dropping out.” 

My country is closed to Christianity, so I have little chance of ever learning about the loving God in heaven who gave His all to save me from this sinful life and promises unending joy and companionship in His presence forever. I would gratefully change places with you this Sabbath and attend your Adventist church, just to enjoy being in His wonderful presence.

“Lord, help me not to complain about the situations in which I find myself today. Bless me with the attitude of gratitude instead.”

Sheryl Mostert Young writes from Placerville, California, where she is a caring mom to Spencer and Ashley, loving supporter of husband Gary, and attentive owner of dog Buddy. This article was published November 22, 2012.