Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Shepastor: “True Gratefulness is Something that Emerges, Not Something Imposed…”
I grew up hearing the story of a young mother of three who was raised in an affluent home in another country. A series of unfortunate circumstances caused the mother’s family to lose their wealth. Her husband, from the same country, grew up in a decent but poor household. Together, they decided to come to America and make a life for themselves. They had little or nothing. It was a struggle, but by faith they persevered and “made it.” A portion of the struggle included the husband receiving a partial scholarship to attend college in one part of the country, and the wife living with relatives in another part of the country, working to raise money to assist him with school and support their family.
The wife and mother humbled herself and accepted “day work” in order to make ends meet. She rose up early in the morning, walked to work – scrubbing floors, doing laundry, babysitting for wealthy women. On one occasion, after working extremely hard, back hurting, feet tired, bones weary, her employer, at the end of a full week, handed her a limp $5.00 bill and said, “Now what is a ‘girl’ like you gonna do with ‘all’ that money? Aren’t you grateful?” The ‘girl’ responded, “It is not the size of the gift, but the heart and mind with which it is given.” Puzzled, the wealthy employer looked at the woman and asked, “Where did you learn such a thing?” The day worker just smiled and walked away.
To tell someone that they should be “grateful” in the face of injustice and oppression is a travesty. To engage in discriminatory practices that keep individuals down and perpetuate poverty, pain and disgrace is sin.
The concept of gratefulness should never be used to impose guilt upon those who dare question oppressive and discriminatory practices. It is a twisted theology that somehow suggests that an individual should be grateful in the midst of abuse, inequality, and “door-mat-ism.”
True Gratefulness emerges from the hearts of those who recognize some measure of grace bestowed upon them. True gratefulness emerges as individuals acknowledge that in spite of mean spirited and ignorant behaviors, God is still good, God still makes a way and God still causes us to triumph over painful situations and circumstances.
True gratefulness emerges as individuals look back over their lives and declare they have a testimony…”my soul looks back and wonders how I made it over…” True gratefulness emerges when one recognizes that greater is the one with us, than the one within the world. True gratefulness emerges as we say with the saints of old, “what the devil meant for evil, God meant for my good!”
The young mother and wife referenced earlier was my mother. I am grateful that she was able to see beyond the ugliness of an abusive employer, trusted God, did her best, later joined her husband, together they raised their family, bought two homes and lived their lives successfully…gratefulness, not imposed, but emerging from our hearts.
“Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good. His mercy endureth forever!”
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,