Gratitude in the Worst Of Times

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On a clear night in mid-December of 2005, I was walking on the lifeboat deck of the MS Legend of the Seas as it sailed through the Caribbean Sea. Every night on the ship, I enjoyed just walking around especially on the lifeboat deck. There I could see the never ending dark ocean, the glow of the moon off the sea, millions of stars illuminating the sky, and waves cresting away from the ship. I was leaning against the railing enjoying the view when I came to realize I wasn’t alone. Standing right behind me stood an Indonesian crew member close to the two sliding glass doors leading into the ship. He appeared to be deep in thought and enjoying the view just as much as I was. I struck up a conversation with him. I learned that the year before his village in Indonesia had been completely destroyed from the tsunami that took the lives of 230,000 people on December 26, 2004. He had been working on the MS Legend of the Seas when the tsunami struck. His family was in the village when the tsunami hit. I asked him, “Were they okay?” “Yes,” he said smiling, “they ran up the hill away from the tsunami.” The crew member went on, “We lost our home and all of our possessions from the tsunami. But I have my family still. That is all that matters.”

In March of 2011, I was visiting a Bahamian family as a volunteer missionary. The family consisted of a middle aged couple and two baby girls. As I walked in, I was stunned at what I saw. Dinner was just about to be served. The entrée this family was having for dinner was a small Banquet spaghetti and meatballs TV dinner. I watched the wife set it carefully on the table and split it up with her two baby girls. The father didn’t join them. On top of food shortages, this family faced a terrifying fact. Due to their inability to pay off their housing bills, they were to be evicted in just a few short days and thrown onto the streets. I quietly watched the Mother and her two baby girls have this meager meal. I looked at the father. You could see the weight of life upon him and how bad he felt watching his family. I asked the father, “How are you doing?” The father said, “You know, it’s been tough Elder Lee. We will be thrown out in a few days. We hardly have any food or clothes to supply ourselves with. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen to us.” The father was quiet for a time and then said with tears dripping down his face, “But you know Elder Lee we are the richest people on earth.” As he regained control of his emotions he said, “We have God who is constantly watching over us. We have His holy scriptures. I still have my family. We may be poor in material things but I think we are millionaires. With God, the scriptures, and family what else do we need?”

Anthony Robbins, an American advisor to leaders, said, “When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.” Life is not perfect for all of us. Each of us has things that we want but may never receive. It may be hard to look up seeing all that we don’t have and feel we are the poorest people on earth. Think of all that you have in your life and what you can be grateful for today.

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