On March 8, 1713, Matthew Henry experienced an unfortunate incident that offered proof that he was a preacher who could not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk.
Henry had preached a sermon in a London church that focused on the joyful sound, and based on the words of Psalm 89:16: They rejoice in Your name all day long, and they are exalted by Your righteousness.
Shortly after he left the church, Henry was robbed by a couple of thieves. As Henry reflected on this incident in a prayer, he said:
Lord, I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.
Henry’s prayer is an expression of gratitude. He chose to focus less on what he had lost and the danger he had faced and more on what he still had, what he had never been, and that he remained safe and secure in Christ.
Instead of allowing bitterness to take root in his life, Henry chose to cultivate a spirit of forgiveness and nurture an attitude of gratitude. Can the same be said of you? Which of these three is indicative of your attitude today–bitterness, forgiveness, or gratitude?
To help you stay focused on this discussion I’ll end with the words of Zig Ziglar: Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.
Like most mornings, I started today with a cup of coffee and my Bible. While I was reading, I thought about God’s wonderful deeds for mankind, and my lack of gratitude:
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
This morning I give thanks to these people I’ve never met:
- Thomas Edison for the light that shines about my head.
- Benjamin Franklin for the glasses I wear.
- The Wright brothers and their work in the field of aviation.
- Charles Babbage, the Father of Computers
- James Watt for his inventive mind that gave us the steam engine.
- Alexander Bell who gave the first truly functional telephone.
- Galileo because his genius improved accuracy of the compass; without which I’d still be lost in the wilderness.
- Henry Ford and his “moving assembly line” which allowed for the mass production of automobiles.
- Willis Carrier for the air conditioning that I enjoy during the hot and humid summer days.
Expressing gratitude and giving thanks are themes that run throughout the pages of the Bible. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote: I thank God . . . as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day (1:3).
I encourage you to mimic Paul: Take some time today to reflect on the past year; express your gratitude, and say thanks to those who have helped you along the way and made your life a little easier.
A nihilarian (nick-el-arian) is a person who deals with things lacking importance. I thank God for the people who are willing to do the tasks that may seem to be insignificant.
Unless you are an avid golfer, you might place caddies in the nihilarian category. You could have the mistaken notion that all a caddy does is carry a bag full of clubs. A good caddy is beneficial to the golfer because he knows the course; can give advice; and, he can help with the mental aspect of the game.
I think most people fail to see the importance of nihilarians. Because they are willing to attend to the small details of life they keep them from mushrooming into big problems.
This is the case with Robert. He is willing to stay behind, so others can go ahead. Each Sunday, he checks to make sure the lights are out, the doors are locked, and only then does he leave the building.
Then, there is the significant role of the ladies who come early to prepare communion and the ladies who work in the nursery–far too often people like these go unnoticed. I say three cheers for the nihilarians. Without you, my job would be much more difficult.
Romans 16 contains a list that names people who played this type of a role in the life of the Apostle Paul. If not for the fact that Paul wanted to express his gratitude for these people, they would be anonymous to history.
The profound importance of nihilarian-like gifts was emphasized in the teaching of Paul. He wrote in I Corinthians 12 that those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. These gifts and these people are indispensable, necessary and an essential to the health of any church or organization.
Here’s a thought to keep you thinking: Who is it that makes your life a little easier, and when was the last time you expressed your appreciation to him or to her? Let the nihilarians in your life know that they’ve been noticed.