The art of gratitude

A long time ago, in the Empire of Persia, there lived a dervish old man with great piousness and devotion. He was as good as Zoroaster. A time came when the familiar and famous old man was famished. He started wandering in the desert of Maranjab in search of food. As he was walking along a beaten pathway, trudged with camels, he chanced upon an empty Persian walnut pouch. The pouch had been thrown along the road by a previous passer-by, probably Darius, who was a renowned trader. He bought goods from Susa and transported them to Sardis.

The dervish picked up the pouch and swung it over his shoulder as he emphatically prayed, “Oh, I thank God for giving a hungry man an empty sack of walnuts.” He then continued to walk.

He moved for some more kilometres and came upon an old hunting bow, perhaps the one that was in use in the times of the immortals. The bow could not really help him when in need of it as it had a broken string. The old man picked the bow and placed it in his sack as he prayed aloud, “Thank God for supplying a starving man a hunting bow with a broken string.”

Further down the begrimed road, his eyes settled upon an old tree. The tree might have been planted by Daniel’s enemies, a holy Jew who served Darius The Great and practised his religion faithfully. Sadly, the tree bore no fruit. He, therefore, broke off a few dry branches and put them in his pouch. He then shouted, “Thank God for directing a ravenous man to a dead fruit tree.”

He would then walk some more kilometres towards the great river Karun which feeds the Persian Gulf. With binoculars, the dervish could have seen the Strait of Hormuz, but those are the days when binoculars could pass for advanced magic.

He now found a scratched old cooking pot. It looked as if it had been used to cook meals for Ahasuerus and Vashti. He picked it off the ground and blew the dust off it and carefully placed it in his pouch. He would follow this with the usual prayer, “Thank God for providing a starving old man with a scratched cooking pot full of dust.”

As he approached the great river, he found on the ground a fishing hook that had a missing fishing pole. I guess it was in use during the times of Alexander the Great. He blithely declared, “Thank God for giving a famished man fishing hook without a fishing pole.”

Later, after walking for several days, his path ended at the great river Karun. The river is such large, and the dervish could not cross it. He was too frail to swim. Even if he would have been energetic, the strong currents of water, which were hurrying rapidly to open up the Strait of Hormuz to international trade, would have swept him to the netherworld. As a result, he fell on his feeble knees at the bank of the river and shouted, “Thank God for guiding a dying man to a river so great that he cannot hope to cross it.”

Without much ado, he tied the fishing hook to the broken string on the hunting bow, and using it as a fishing pole; he caught a large fish that he cooked in the old pot over a fire he made from the dried tree branches. He now sat down to enjoy the meal as he read the story of Daniel and his three friends.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Hebrew 13:15.

A life of thanksgiving

George Beverly Shea went to be with the Lord in 2013 at the age of 104. He was a distinguished worshipper, a singer of no mean repute, a composer in his own class. He has sung live before more people than anyone else in history. Shea teamed with Billy Graham – who went to be with the LORD in early 2018 – to bring Good News to millions of people across the world. Shea would sing thanksgiving songs to God and worship Him through hymns, and then Billy Graham followed with a message of hope to a world ravaged by man-made and natural disasters, hot and cold wars, poverty and starvation, hopelessness and despondency. On radio and TV, they were introduced by Cliff Barrows. Cliff Barrows became one of the united voices of forgiveness, salvation and hope of eternal life in Jesus.

Miriam, the sister of Moses, took the timbrel and led other women in dancing and singing as they gave thanks to God, not for settling them in Canaan, but for making them cross the Red Sea safely, and for destroying their enemies (Exodus 15:19-20).

Mary started giving thanks to God once she received news that she will give birth to the Saviour of the World (Luke 1:46-55). She did not wait to give birth before she could start praising God.

We are ordinarily predisposed to circumstances that further ingratitude. We carry along with a grumbling spirit. However, today, I have chosen to tell the story of thanksgiving. I have elected to promote the heart of gratitude and worship.

The spirit of grumbling is likely to set in when we forget the goodness of the Lord and all that He has done for us. Our souls ought to cry out Hallelujah and thank Him for saving us.

Thank God for the material blessings, the people in your life, trials and temptations, salvation through Jesus Christ, His presence and power.

I chose thanksgiving over grumbling.

“Worship leader George Beverly Shea kidded Billy Graham that the latter would be unemployed in Heaven — while Shea would still have a job leading worship.” Billy Graham, Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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