They Have Nothing – Why Are They Thankful?
I recently had the opportunity to travel to a remote village in Honduras where I met some wonderful people of God. It was a joy to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ who welcomed me like family even though I looked different and spoke a different language. They allowed me to preach during a worship service that was held in the home of one of the church leaders there. For the most part, the service was much like ours. There was a lot of singing and some scripture reading, but prayer time was definitely different than the way we do it in my church. I am used to one person leading a prayer and everyone is supposed to quietly pray along with the one who is leading. In this Honduran church, everyone prays out loud at the same time! The one leading the prayer just prays louder than everyone else, and when he’s done, everyone gradually stops. There is tremendous intensity and great emotion in the prayer time. I could not understand most of what they were saying, but there was no doubt that James would have recognized their prayers as “fervent” and “effectual” (James 5:16 KJV). I finished praying before the others and just listened for a while, and was blown away by one phrase that I heard repeated over and over. “Gracias Señor.” “Gracias Señor.” I knew what that meant, “Thank you, Lord.” The meaning is not what puzzled me. The fact that they were saying it at all is what almost brought me to tears. I live in the greatest country in the world. I have more than enough to eat, a nice house in which to live, and money in the bank. Computer gadgets surround me, I enjoy all kinds of entertainment, and I can relax in my easy chair with a remote in one hand and a Dr Pepper in the other. I am healthy, have a great family, and wonderful friends. I love my job and I love my community. I have many reasons to be grateful! But these people have nothing. Most of them live in a house that would fit in my living room. That house has dirt floors and no windows. They don’t need windows because they have no air conditioning. Most of them have no vehicle and rarely leave their village. They have nowhere to go for entertainment, no TV, and no computer. If they had those things, they would not be able to run them for long because they have very little electricity. Most families either have no electricity at all or they have enough to run one light bulb in the middle of the house. The whole family sleeps in one room and they cook on a wood burning stove that was hand made. Most of the people there that day were living with some kind of ailment or illness that I could easily get cured by a quick trip to the doctor or pharmacist. And yet, they were grateful! In my mind, these people had nothing, and yet with outstretched hands they were loudly praying, “Thank you!” Their gratitude in poverty revealed a part of me that I did not want to see. I had grown so accustomed to my way of life, that I had taken luxury for granted. I expected or felt entitled to certain comforts. I have failed to adequately express my gratitude to the One who gives every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). I guess I even lost sight of what really matters. They were not thanking God for the “good things” in life, but for life itself. They were thanking God for His love, His Son, His Spirit, His Presence. They were grateful for the opportunity to know Him! It is in that relationship with the Almighty that life becomes real and meaningful. Life is not about what we have, but Who we know. Thank you to my church family in Honduras for helping me see. Thank you to the Lord for my life, my family, and my faith. But I thank Him most of all for being my God and for allowing me to know Him. Gracious Señor!