November 27, 2020

Finding Gratitude After Loss

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  Luke 12:15

John Wesley was all of six years old when fire broke out in the frame house where he and his large family lived. It was one of the most vivid memories of his life. John was trapped on the second floor, unable to get out.  He stood there at the window terrified, afraid to jump.

But a neighbor, standing on the shoulders of another man, was able to reach the little boy and pull him through the window just as the roof collapsed and fell, where, only moments before, John had been standing.

Telling of the event many years later, John Wesley wrote, “When they brought me to the house where my father was, he cried out, `Come neighbors, let us kneel down!  Let us give thanks to God!  He has given me all my eight children; let the house go, I am rich enough.'”

In 1709, the year this tragedy took place, there were no insurance policies guaranteeing the rebuilding of a house that had been engulfed in flames.  Normally, a man’s life savings went into his house, and it was passed down to one of the children as an inheritance.  But the house was of no concern:  “I am rich enough!” he said, thanking God that the lives of his children had been spared.

Years ago, a friend and I happened to notice smoke coming out the window of a small house nearby.  We ran to see if we could help, but by the time we arrived, it was too late.  An oil heater had exploded, sending flames throughout the tiny little house.

Outside stood a mother, a father, and a little girl about seven years of age.  The mother was crying; the dad wringing his hands as he cried out, “My God, all is lost; everything we own.”  Reaching for the hand of her father, the little girl said, “All’s not lost, Daddy; you’ve got Mommy and me!”

Far too often we focus on the ashes, the failures, the broken dreams, what happened which didn’t go according to the script, and we wring our hands.  What really counts?  The rebuilding of a house, or saving a family?

Our problem, simply put, is that we have put so much value on possessions that we have lost sight of the value of relationships–family, friends and neighbors.

We need to learn the lesson Jesus impressed on His disciples when he said, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

What is needed today is a clear vision, separating what is really important from the clutter and baggage that fills our lives and our schedules–things that don’t really matter when it comes to the true currency of life and living.

Many people throughout the world celebrated yesterday as Thanksgiving Day, but today, the day after, it is business as usual.  How do you develop an attitude of gratitude–the kind that affects your outlook on life the day after Thanksgiving, or the day after a fire?

Strive to get the perspective of eternity!  Separate the wheat from the chaff!  Learn to know the difference between what people think is important–the house, the car, the luxury vacation–from what really is important.

Learn to be grateful for the moment–the cup of coffee with your mate or best friend, the beauty of the morning, the quiet evening with your family, the smell of the dew and the fragrance of a rose.  For these, be thankful!  There is gratitude beyond the fire of disappointment.  Think about it.

Resource reading:  Acts 16:19-28