I fell on the hard court playing tennis recently. I was able to walk off the court, drive home, and walk into the house—although ever-so-gingerly. After about an hour of watching TV I tried to move. Notice I said tried. I couldn’t.
I don’t know how painful it is to have a baby, but I have never imagined it would be any more painful than the pain I experienced that night. Every subtle shift in the chair sent me screaming in pain. After a few hours of this, my wife called 911 and the ambulance arrived a few minutes later. Getting onto the board to get me off the couch was excruciating. The ride was worse. Every turn, every bump… why don’t they put better shocks in an ambulance?
After settling into my bed at the emergency room I had a moment of reprieve. (It only really hurt when I moved.) I had a moment where I thought, “It doesn’t hurt right now. This feels good.” That thought was followed with, “This bed is just about right. Not too firm. Not too soft. And it is tilted just about right. This feels pretty good. Thank you, Lord, for this bed. And, thank you for a hospital not too far from my house. Thank you for an ambulance to transport me. Thank you for a wife to hold my hand during this ordeal. Thank you for the doctors and the hope of some relief. Thank you for insurance that will pay for most of this.”
On and on my mind with this little riff, thanking God for one thing after another. Once my mind cued up the gratitude tape, it just played and played. I didn’t enjoy this little thanksgiving service in the privacy of my mind because I am a super-godly person. I enjoyed that little thanksgiving service because I had trained myself to be grateful. Night after night I thought of twenty things I was grateful for so that when the trigger of thanking God for one thing—the hospital bed—was pulled, I could not keep myself from going through that whole riff.
Many people think the command to “Give thanks in all circumstances” is wishful thinking. Part of them feels guilty for not living up to it. Part of them feels the command is impossible. People who have trained themselves don’t feel that way. They know the joy of living with a mind that is constantly thinking of all the things they are grateful for. Train yourself to be godly.
If you will train yourself to be grateful—rather than merely trying really hard to be grateful, you will have far more dog days, and far fewer cat days.
Imagine you hear a sermon on service. Don’t try hard to serve. Train yourself to be godly. Train yourself to serve. I pick up trash when I walk every day. I think it is good for my soul. My wife and I both use Kindles, but for whatever reason, we only have one charger. I charge her Kindle first. I think it is good for my soul.
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