As we consider our blessings, we can be thankful for things we don’t have. My friend, Beth, a paraplegic, taught me this concept. She often told me we was grateful we wasn't any sicker than she was, and her trials were difficult. Every time I remember someone who is starving, abused, or suffering, I thank God that I have plenty of food to eat, live in a peaceful home, and can usually manage my pain with a couple of ibuprofen tablets.
I'm grateful I don't have to trek out to an outhouse in my backyard, that I don't have to walk a couple of hundred miles to see a doctor, and that I don't have to heat my water on the stove every time I want to bathe.
I'm grateful I don't have bipolar schizo-affective disorder--that I don’t see monsters invading my home, believe I no longer need to pay my bills because Donny Osmond has married me, and think that my car engine is trying to attack me every time I drive as my niece does.
I’m grateful that if I speak at a city council meeting, vote, or place a political sign in my yard during the election, I don't have to suffer reprisals. I’m thankful that government officials don’t decide when to turn on the heat in my home and that I’m dont' have to live amid genocide or guerilla warfare.
I’m glad I don’t have to stand in line for four hours to enter a library (as our foreign exchange student, Gor, did, who lived in Hong Kong) and that I can check out thirty books at a time. I’m happy that I don’t have to drink contaminated water or eat disease-ridden food. I’m grateful that elementary and secondary students don't have to pay high fees for their education.
I’m thankful that I don’t have cystic fibrosis, bone cancer, or progressive multiple sclerosis. I praise God that I’m not blind from macular degeneration or paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. I’m glad I don’t have to use a walker, guide dog, or oxygen tank to make it through the day even though I am grateful they are available for those who need them.
As we celebrate not only our blessings but our lack of particular burdens, we recognize that our glass isn’t only full, but it is overflowing. We can praise God who gave us the greatest gift of all, His Beloved Son, so that that we don't have to live forever with sin and death. As we celebrate the blessings we have and the adversities we don't have, I rejoice with Paul,“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
© Carol Brown