I have been thinking about gratitude this past week. When life is hard, I have learned that it helps to focus on all the things that are going right in my life rather than the problems. At least that works for me when the problems are not overwhelming. When life seems impossible, however, I can find it hard to focus on gratitude as I struggle to stay afloat. Not that I don’t cling to God at such times, but I am less likely to remember to say thank you quite as often when I’m standing deep in the latest pile of lemons that life has dumped. But I met a young woman in the past couple of weeks who said “thank you,” and she has changed my perspective on gratitude.
This young woman and her teenage daughter are homeless. They spent the week sleeping at our church during our church’s most recent Family Promise week. Family Promise is a program that houses homeless families in churches while it helps them to improve their lives and to achieve independence. You can find out more at: http://www.familypromise.org/. Our church has participated in this program since its beginning in our community, and we have housed a number of families at the church since then. This time, however, something different happened. This particular young woman left a thank you note behind.
The reason we participate in this program is to serve Christ, and I don’t think any of us has expected appreciation for our efforts. But what a blessing she provided! Her note has been passed around the congregation and received with reverent gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks in all circumstances. I’m not sure how well I could do that if I were homeless and dependent on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter. But what I learned from a young woman who has that kind of wisdom and strength of character is what a profound effect a simple thank you can have on the recipients. Her expression of gratitude will fuel our volunteers for a long time. We have been strengthened to help others who are homeless because of her reminder that what we do matters. I never knew how much difference a simple thank you can make.
Grace and Peace,