I just read a book that I couldn’t put down, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life by John Kralik. Here was a man in his fifties, twice divorced, losing his business, in a bitter lawsuit who was at the end of his rope, not knowing what to do and even thinking that life wasn’t worth it.
He decided to take a hike on New Year’s Day when he became lost, slipping and stumbling in the rough grass and rocks. Here is a part of what he wrote:
I began to despair of getting home before dark, much less finishing something I started in the new year. I imagined falling down into one of the ravines. If that happened, how would I survive the night?
Then I heard a voice: “Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want.” I do not know who spoke to me. I could not explain this voice, or the words it said, which seemed to have no logical relation to the other thoughts in my head.
I was so tired and frustrated. I sat there listening to my breath. The wheezing from my asthma subsided and I realized I had no choice but to get up and try to find my way home. Then for some reason, at that moment, I thought of my grandfather and how he gave all his grandchildren a silver dollar, a large amount of money for a child at that time. He promised that if I wrote him a letter thanking him for this silver dollar, he would send me another one. That was how it worked. I wrote him a thank you letter and got another silver dollar but I was blind to what he was teaching me and so I never wrote another letter and never received another silver dollar.
During this same time, John was at the brink of being kicked out of his law office but his office manager had already ordered some very nice personal stationery, several hundred notes and envelopes with the return address. After he heard the voice, he decided he would start writing thank you notes, using the new stationery, for the next year and see if it made a difference.
I’ll go on and give you the end of the book; it did! It wasn’t the actual writing that made the difference for John. It was finding the people to thank, to re-engage with his sons and family and long lost friends who gave him a new purpose in his life while writing to them. The exercise of writing also made him take his thoughts off himself and put them onto doing for others. He also started having faith and decided to write a book on his experience.
After the book was published, he started to receive letter after letter thanking him for writing it! Many were dealing with tragedy and chaos in their lives. They wrote of how they found meaning and purpose from these tragedies. They said his book had encouraged, inspired, and reaffirmed the value and healing power of gratitude in their lives. One man wrote that “God meant me to find your book.”
The author went on to say that writing these notes “have shown in my own life how doing one small good thing hundreds of times could make things better, sometimes in surprising, large, and unforeseen ways.”
This is what God meant when He taught us the principle of reaping and sowing: we reap more than we sow, later than we sow whether we sow good or bad.
How does this relate to Thanksgiving? My purpose was to give a different kind of take on this wonderful day of Thanks. I started to talk about all the wonderful ways Thanksgiving can be in our lives but then I thought why not just share how being thankful truly changed one man’s life along with others who followed his plan?
Manna from Heaven
Ingratitude dulls our spiritual perception, but thanksgiving opens our eyes to gain new insights into God’s character, ways, and desires. When we give Him praise instead of just asking Him to do something for us, our relationship with Him deepens and matures.
When we are grateful, we are focusing on God and not our problems and that joy will transfer to all those around you!
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100: 1-5
May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving!