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Can You Be Grateful

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted August 6, 2014

EDGEFIELD – Kids can be mean. Growing up I was overweight and color-blind. I guess in some ways things have not changed much. But back then I was super-portly. My pants used to be as wide as they were long. They came from the “Husky” section of the store. I was a boy who loved his candy. Kids were mean to me. They knew I was color blind and they offered me skittles only if I could tell them what color they were!

So I would guess, hoping I would be right, get candy and a sugar rush, and avoid the embarrassment of being wrong. But I was usually wrong! So as my blood sugar plummeted, I would descend in self-pity. If you were laughing at me you should feel bad now!

But at least I could see. Not many of us can even imagine what it would be like to not be able to see at all.  Think about not being able to distinguish a loved one’s face in the crowd, or easily navigate a street crossing. The gift of sight is an amazing blessing for which we oftentimes forget to be thankful.
This week I read about Fanny Crosby (1820–1915.) She wrote more that eight thousand hymns, enough to fill fifteen complete hymnals stacked one on top of the other. Her writing was enough to cause her publishers to give her multiple pen names in order to make her prodigious output seem more believable.

You see at six weeks of age, her family physician had used hot compresses on her eyes in an attempt to cure an infection. The technique only succeeded in scarring sensitive tissue, rendering her permanently blind. However, she refused to become despondent over her inability to see. At the age of eight, she wrote some poetry telling what a “happy child” she was, despite her physical limitation.

She was thankful for the blessing of blindness. She later wrote in her autobiography that she never could have written all those thousands of songs if she had constantly been distracted by the sights of the world around her. “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation.” Notice she said that “I thank Him,” for blindness.

Her perspective highlights that there are two types of people in the world: The grateful and the ungrateful.

Her outlook could have been failing to see God’s goodness and kindness to her, but instead she wrote “To God be the glory, great things He hath done; So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin ,And opened the life gate that all may go in.”

She could have lived bitter and angry at the hand God had dealt her, but instead she wrote of “Blessed Assurance.” Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.”

Her embracing of life and the sovereign hand of God in it meant that she was personally freed from her physical blindness and given great spiritual insight. She redeemed her life to the fullest and was able to bless and encourage countless people all because her great gratitude to God that transcended any limitations that she might have had.

So today can you have the faith to trust God in His Sovereignty and look at life through the lens of James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  (3)  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  (4)  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4?

What today can you tell God thank you for? Are you a grateful or an ungrateful person? 

Pastor Phillip
- In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.—Isaiah 29:18

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