By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Van Ness
In November 2018, an older couple had spent the Thanksgiving Day weekend with their family.
As they traveled home, a windstorm bore down upon them and a 100-foot-tall Douglas fir (with an estimated weight of 34,600 pounds) fell on top of them. The monstrous tree landed right on their windshield and crushed their car.
Now, there were two forces at work here.
One was the force of their car traveling at 45 MPH. The other was a 17-ton tree being pulled downward by the force of gravity.
Either one of these forces were adequate to kill them both. Fortunately, both of them emerged from their totaled car without a scratch.
Yet, they could have looked at things differently. They could have grumbled, “Why did this happen to us? Are we jinxed? Is God out to get us? Do we now have to worry about when the next tree is going to fall on top of us?”
Or, they could have said, “What are the chances of us ever surviving such an accident, ever? We are so grateful, thank you.”
In other words, we have a choice when bad things occur. We can look at the dark side of life or the bright side.
We can count the curses or count the blessings. Our couple chose to thank God for their deliverance, rather than to blame him for their accident. And that’s the smart thing and the right thing to do.
An attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving not only inspires faith and hope in our hearts, it also opens our eyes to many other blessings which God has already given us, even things that we do not see or realize.
Therefore, gratitude and thanksgiving make us happier people and easier to live with. They also strengthen our relationships with God, our spouse and our children.
It’s for a very good reason that the Bible commands us, “Give thanks to God in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
During this upcoming Holiday season, let us adopt an attitude of gratitude. We’ll all be better for it.
(Editor’s note: Van Ness is the deputy garrison chaplain.)