Joseph and Deborah Bernard were returning to their home in Bellingham, Washington. They had spent the Thanksgiving Day weekend with their family in Hoodsport. As they traveled up US Highway 101 a windstorm bore down upon them. And that’s when it happened. As they drove 45 MPH through the storm, a 100-foot-tall Douglas fir (with an estimated weight of 34,600 pounds) fell on top of them. The monstrous tree landed right on their windshield and crushed their car.
Now, there were two forces at work here. One was the force of their car traveling at 45 MPH. The other was a 17-ton tree being pulled downward by the force of gravity. Either one of these forces was adequate to kill both Joe and Debbie. Combined, these forces would have made their death certain. Yet both of them emerged from their totaled car without as much as a scratch. In fact, one first responder to the scene told them, “I’ve never seen anyone walk away from a crash like this.”
Joe and Debbie had two ways of looking at the accident.
They could have grumbled, “What are the chances of us being in the wrong place at the wrong time to be clobbered by a falling tree?” The couple could have mulled over the staggering probabilities against such a coincidence. The two of them could have bemoaned, “Why did this happen to us? Are we jinxed? Is God out to get us? That falling tree managed to hit a moving target. Do we now have to worry about when the next tree is going to fall on top of us?”
On the other hand, they could have said, “What are the chances of us ever surviving such an accident – not only hitting a tree going at 45 MPH – but a 100-foot tree falling on top of us? One first responder told us, ‘I’ve never seen anyone walk away from an accident like this.’ What are the staggering probabilities against us ever surviving such a calamity?”
What do we count?
In other words, we have a choice when calamity comes. We can look at the dark side of life or the bright side. We can count the curses or count the blessings. But be advised. If we choose to count the curses in life, it will be hazardous to our mental health. It will drive us to depression and eventual madness. We will also go through life overlooking all the wonderful treasures which God has poured into our lives.
And those things which we routinely overlook and neglect, we also tend to lose – especially if those blessings are people. For people can only endure being unappreciated and neglected for so long.
Joe and Debbie chose to thank God for their deliverance, rather than to blame Him for the accident. That’s the smart thing and the right thing to do. An attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving not only inspires faith and hope in our hearts. It also opens our eyes to many other blessings which God has already given us. It helps us to see the blessings we have in our spouse and children.
Gratitude and thanksgiving make us happier people and easier to live with.
Therefore, gratitude and thanksgiving make us happier people and easier to live with. They also strengthen our relationships with God, our spouse, and our children. It’s for a very good reason that the Bible gives us these commands. “Bless the LORD, and forget none of His benefits” (Psalm 103:2) and “Give thanks to God in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Dear Father in heaven, please ingrain in me an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving. Open my eyes, I pray, to see all the blessings You have poured into my life. Even when adversity comes, please keep me from overlooking the wonders of Your faithfulness and love. Amen.