When I look at the current events in this country that are surrounding me, it is impossible not to be thankful for the multitude of ways that I see God's blessings every day. But it is also impossible not to wonder if thankfulness would come so readily, if thankfulness would be my choice if I had to walk the tragedies that people just down the road are living, day in and day out. Should thankfulness overflow only when I can see by comparison that my life really isn't so bad? The obvious and resounding answer to that rhetorical question is "No!" But I wonder, if I had to traverse difficulties like these, could I... or perhaps more accurately, would I choose gratitude? So this week, I'm thanking the Lord for these many examples of others who've chosen gratitude, even in the midst of amazingly difficult, incomprehensible-to-me situations...
#366 a dear lady from our home church who's never had but encouraging words, smiles and hugs who grows weaker as she waits gently and patiently for the Lord to usher her into His presence
#367 our old neighbor, the donut lady, who's sweet little Zeinabou bears the marks of malaria, meningitis and hydrocephalus, but who always smiles and waves joy when we drive past and has so often shared her remaining donuts with my girls
#368 another family from our sending church who have watched and struggled, fighting for the life and health of their son through incomprehensible medical scenarios, yet who continue to thank and praise
#369 my Gourmantche grandma friend who watched her daughter die after giving birth to little Salamatou, and who has sacrificed so much, daily, to care for that sweet little girl
#370 friends who live with amazing amounts of chronic pain that touches almost every day of their lives, but who still seek to minister, encourage and smile at God and others, even while they beg the Lord for relief
#371 my dear friend Safana (she waited by the side of the road for 45 mintues the other day to see us... just because she knew every Saturday afternoon we pass that way) who's heart is back in her home country of Togo with her aging mother and extended family, but who chooses to remain in Niger to work and provide an education and the dream of a better life for her children... and I'm so sure God is keeping her here because He wants her to know and trust Him
#372 my grandparents who've seen so much, both joy and sorrow, and for whom every day brings the challenges of aging - but who still seek to love, encourage, serve and give to the best of their abilities even when it is hard, painful or costs them more than most would want to pay
#373 another friend here, who has gone far away to work... providing for her family but leaving her children with their father (she had no other choice in this society) who was abusive, mostly because he was just.so.angry with her... hoping and praying that her provision through her absence will help protect her children, trusting that God will continue to protect, care for and work in their hearts and lives
#374 the many I've seen and heard whisper the words, "It is well with my soul," or "God makes no mistake," even when humanly speaking, it sure looks and feels that way
#375 the hundreds... thousands... down the road who accept this unbelievable lot in life without anger or bitterness... but who strive daily to eek out a living, an existence for their family without complaint... who don't even have the grace of God to rely upon because they don't know Him... but who have learned God's eternal truth that we all, no matter how bad things seem, have many things for which we can be thankful - and thus show me what real joy looks like
May the Lord continually so open my eyes to this truth... and to the encouragement of examples such as those listed above.