What To Forget And What To Remember
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
"In some parts of Mexico," writes James Hewett, "hot springs and cold springs are found side by side—and because of the convenience of this natural phenomenon the women often bring their laundry and boil their clothes in the hot springs and then rinse them in the cold ones." On one occasion a tourist, watching nature's laundromat, commented that "Mother Nature is pretty generous to supply such ample, clean hot and cold water here side by side for their free use." To his great surprise, however, the friend replied, "No señor, there is much grumbling because she supplies no soap."
Such ingratitude! Yet, are we not just as guilty, for no matter what we have, we want more! For what are you thankful? Take a few moments and ponder the following questions:
- Can you walk, talk, and hear the sound of my voice? Did you see the sun this morning drive back the fog or paint the hills on the distant horizon? Or did you simply miss "the soap"?
- Is there someone, anyone in this vast world of people, who cares quite deeply for you, someone who would mourn your death, who would, indeed, miss you should you be swept off Planet Earth? OK, going one step further, is there just one person who cares deeply enough about you that you can say, "Yes, there is at least one person in the world who loves me. Or have you simply focused on "the missing soap"?
- Do you have a family? I mean are you surrounded by one or two individuals, whether they are blood relatives or very close friends, who are family? Or have you simply noticed that other people have more "soap" than you and you feel shortchanged in life?
- Can you read? "Oh," you say, "That's a pretty silly question. Can't everybody read? Friend, some people can't read the label on the soap! They are functionally illiterate. Some are like the Kenyan, an old gentleman whose face is etched in my memory, who came to a medical outreach in his village hoping that someone could give him glasses strong enough to allow him to once again read. I doubt that I will ever forget the look of disappointment or rejection written on his face when he picked up his battered, broken hat and walked away.
- Do you have at least one friend? Is there at least one person who understands and loves you—warts, bumps, flaws, and blemishes?
- Do you have a change of clothing, a second pair of shoes, enough food to last for a week? If so, you are in a minority in our world. Focus on the hot and cold water—not the missing soap.
- Most important of all—has God revealed Himself to you in such a way that you know when you die, you will spend eternity in the home Jesus went to prepare for you? Do you have a Bible that tells you of God's nature and character, and do you rejoice that He has included you in His family? If so, friend, you have not only hot and cold water, but you have experienced the cleaning power of the Holy Spirit that washes away all sin.
A final thought: He who has no gratitude can never be on speaking terms with God. The Bible is a photo album of God's gracious gifts to us. Instead of focusing on the "missing soap" in your life, focus on the hot and cold water. Forget about the soap, and lift your heart in rejoicing, giving thanks for the abundance of blessings God has poured out in your life. Forget the soap! Focus on the blessings!
Resource reading: Psalm 100:1-5
 James. S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998), 262.