By Dr. Mike Murphy
As the wind roared, and the lightning flashed, the warning post came across my phone, telling me that a tornado was spotted and approaching the area. And as I made my way down the stairs, the sound of reality began to scream at a distance. From miles away, through each clash of thunder, you could hear the distinct sound of the warning sirens blaring. And as I began to hear that sound, time began to stand still around me. Each little noise started to echo through my ears, and brought an awareness to my mind. And as the wood in the house begins to make `popping” sounds from the pressure, and the electrical power to the house was suddenly gone, I realized that a tornado could not be far away.
As the minutes began to pass, and the messages started to come in from friends and family, I realized that a couple of miles is all that had separated me from the disaster the darkness held. As only a short distance away, the “popping” sounds I heard were being replaced by the sound of exploding wood and brick, as a deadly tornado had ripped through neighborhoods not very far from my own. And as my heart ached for those who I knew must have lost so much, I was grateful that my house had been spared from the path of this devastating storm.
The following night, as the power returned, I began to see all the reports, all the images, of what we had experienced the night before. And as I saw the images, two began to stand out, unable to me. One of the homes I saw belonged to a couple I had known for almost my entire life. A couple who held tightly to a strong faith in our Lord, who had found themselves in the path of the storm just hours before. My heart sunk for them, but as I messaged with their daughter, I could still hear the gratefulness in her words. Although so many of her childhood items had been lost, the ones who had brought her the memories of those items were still standing fine. And as she reflected on all that had happened, she was overwhelmingly grateful that her parents had survived in the face of this danger.
The second image I saw was the house of a friend I had known for several years. Pictures of his family’s house, that now looked like it had been a part of a war zone. And as I was able to get in touch with him, he told me what the night before had held. How the tornado had hit their house with such tremendous force, and how it had all happened so fast, that he almost did not have time to think. And he told me of the damage it had done. How items from their house had been scattered for miles, with many cherished items thrown so far by the storm they would never be found again. But as the storm had left his family homeless, I could still hear the sounds of happiness in his voice. He spoke to me of just how grateful he was, as the Lord had pulled tight that night all my friend held as priceless. As his family had walked away without a scratch.
It was at that moment, shortly after the lights to my house had come back on, that the Lord clicked on a “light’ that came to my mind. A light that reminded me exactly what it means to be grateful.
Gratefulness is not simply a feeling or an emotion, but a constant presence that is forever in the heart of all who call Him Father. Gratefulness is found in the comfort, peace, and joy of us knowing that no matter what we might face, the Lord is always right there with us, never leaving us to face a second of this world alone.
First Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Gratefulness keeps our heart in perfect alignment with God’s will. Gratefulness reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from His hands (James 1:17), and not matter what this world might throw at us, a glimpse of His goodness can always be found. Daily allowing us to remember, we can find ourselves grateful even when we might not feel very grateful for the circumstances. or for the situation, we find ourselves in. We can grieve for all we face, and our heart still be found as grateful. We can hurt for all our eyes might see, and still be grateful for all we so lovingly see Him doing. And we can even be angry for all that is being done around us, and still be grateful for each opportunity the Lord still finds a way to bring to us.
Gratefulness reminds us just how precious each moment of this gift of life is. And gratefulness calls us to make the most for Him with each of those moments. Not letting a moment of this gift pass us by without letting Him know just how grateful we are, and without sharing the gratefulness of our heart with all of those around us. A gratefulness that shines the greatest light of hope in the midst of the darkness that the worst tragedy might bring. Lovingly reminding us to show others, what He makes right is far greater than all this world might ever make wrong.
In the midst of devastation, in the face of this tragedy, the Lord reminded me of the gratefulness that only His love could ever bring me. A gift that I watched as a daughter would cherish as she got to spend a few more of those precious moments with parents she dearly loved. And a git that I heard in each word of a father speaking to me, as he held close in his arms all he valued most, something every possession in this world could never begin to offer him.
In the face of all the destruction I might see around me, the words of the psalmist cannot help but come pouring out of me. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1). Above the clapping of the thunder, the popping of the wood, and the screaming of the warning sirens, His words are the only sound that I can clearly hear. Because in the midst of the worst of storms, His constant goodness and His steadfast love, still shine bright in the middle of the darkness. Reminding me, as His arms stretch out to engulf and surround me, each word I speak should be heard in me saying, “Lord, I am so grateful!”
Praying this day reminds you of the One you have to be grateful for!