This weekend, even in these pages, you will read much about taking the time to exercise gratitude this year. And I suppose I am no different – especially this year.
As I reflect on Thanksgiving this year, I recall the words of Paul in Philippians 4:12:
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
It has been, admittedly, a year of adversity on the home front, facing many new challenges and trials. There have been plenty of highs, but also plenty of lows. But I’ve also had the opportunity this week to put some of those lows in perspective.
As I prepared for a story this week, I read the accounts of early settlers in the county who endured a harsh winter as they put down roots here 150 years ago. Water froze and prices were high because the nearest supply sources were more than 50 miles away and the railroad had not yet come.
Winter weather beat against sod houses, and farmers had to drill holes in a frozen creek just so their animals could have a drink. Wolves, coyotes and snakes were constant threats, as were starvation and illness.
Life expectancy was far shorter a century and a half ago on what was then a vicious, windswept wilderness.
It sort of makes my troubles seem awfully small by comparison.
The pages of the Bible are full of men and women who found their deepest gratitude for their Creator at the most despairing points in their lives. He was with Joseph in a pit and in prison; with Job when he was penniless and alone in the dirt; with David in the humility of loss and repentance; with three men cast into a king’s fire; with Lazarus’ grieving sisters; with Paul in a Roman jail.
Even when the hours are darkest, to find gratitude, all we ever need to do is turn our eyes Heavenward and remember we are never alone. An innocent man stretched out on a Roman cross died a criminal’s death so that we would never have to be alone again.
And this morning, once again, I was reminded of some of the greatest treasures. The energetic, joyful smile of a 6-year-old girl that lights up my life everyday. The undying love of a wife, who’s loved me, even at my worst. The simple but profound beauty of a sunrise, reminding me of His new mercies each morning, and the hope of a new day dawning.
See, as the pilgrims understood 400 years ago, and the Kansas pioneers 150 years ago after them, the true treasures, those things for which we ought to be most thankful – life, love, beauty, hope and faith – can never be measured on a scale or quantified by a ledger.
So, as many others, I encourage you this weekend to take time and turn off the noise, quiet the complaining, and take heed from those who’ve gone before.
Remember – and be thankful for – all that truly matters. The dark days will pass, and hope awaits.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Daniel Kiewel is a reporter for the Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.