[Dr. Pipim's Thanksgiving Devotional, November 2015]
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend” (Melody Beattie). The key to gratitude is contentment. For, a contented heart is a grateful heart. And a heart full of gratitude is a fountain from which life’s richest blessings flow.
This fact is evidenced in the life of Fanny Crosby (1820 –1915), one of the most prolific hymn writers in history. Though blinded for life at the age of 6 weeks (through the incompetence of a doctor), Fanny Crosby resolved to be content with her state. When she was only 8 years, she composed this rhymed poem:
“Oh, what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don't
To weep and sigh because I'm blind
I cannot nor I won't.”
“I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.” That was the secret. And what was the result? Her contentment blessed the world with more than 8,000 uplifting hymns. They include the following favorite hymns: “All The Way, My Savior Leads Me” “Blessed Assurance,” “Praise Him, Praise Him!”, “Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!”, “He Hideth My Soul (A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord)” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” "Don't Forget the Sabbath," and “To God Be the Glory.”
Indeed, a contented heart is a grateful heart, and a heart of gratitude is a fountain from which life’s richest blessings flow. Do you want to develop a heart of gratitude, a heart that is at peace and which gives thanks to God “in EVERYTHING” (Philippians 4:6, 7), then learn to be content. The apostle Paul continued:
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
“I have learned … to be content.” Contentment is learned behavior. We learn to be content. We don’t just wish or pray our way into contentment. We exert effort to learn how to be content. We make a deliberate effort to cultivate or develop a heart of gratitude and contentment. How do we learn that? For some insights, we turn to a contemporary of Fanny Crosby (1820 –1915)--another remarkable Christian author who has blessed the world with her numerous published works. In her book Steps to Christ, pp. 122, 125, E. G. White (1827-1915) writes:
“Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare. We should not allow the perplexities and worries of everyday life to fret the mind and cloud the brow. If we do we shall always have something to vex and annoy. We should not indulge a solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials.
“You may be perplexed in business; your prospects may grow darker and darker, and you may be threatened with loss; but do not become discouraged;  cast your care upon God, and remain calm and cheerful.  Pray for wisdom to manage your affairs with discretion, and thus prevent loss and disaster.  Do all you can on your part to bring about favorable results. Jesus has promised His aid, but not apart from our effort.  When, relying upon our Helper, you have done all you can, accept the result cheerfully.
“It is not the will of God that His people should be weighed down with care. But our Lord does not deceive us. He does not say to us, ‘Do not fear; there are no dangers in your path.’ He knows there are trials and dangers, and He deals with us plainly. He does not propose to take His people out of a world of sin and evil, but He points them to a never-failing refuge…
“ Then let us not cast away our confidence, but have firm assurance, firmer than ever before. ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us,’ and He will help us to the end. 1 Samuel 7:12.  Let us look to the monumental pillars, reminders of what the Lord has done to comfort us and to save us from the hand of the destroyer.  Let us keep fresh in our memory all the tender mercies that God has shown us,--the tears He has wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed,--thus strengthening ourselves for all that is before us through the remainder of our pilgrimage" (E.G. White, Steps To Christ, pp. 122, 125).
Reflect again on all the “tender mercies” listed above: "the tears He has wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed."
Contentment is developed when we remember God's goodness and cultivate the habit of remembering to count our blessings day by day. A forgetful heart is discontented and ungrateful. This is why King David urges us to not forget all the blessings God has bestowed upon us:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:Who forgives all your iniquities [not just your sins and transgressions, but your iniquities], Who heals all your diseases [not just sicknesses and illnesses, but diseases], Who redeems your life from destruction [redemption implies He exchanged His life for you to save you from destruction], Who crowns you with [that is, above all, He showers you with His] lovingkindness [grace] and tender mercies, [not just mercy, but "tender" mercy], Who satisfies your mouth with good things,so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).
"Forget not all His benefits." A forgetful heart is discontented and ungrateful. May the Lord help us to remember to count our blessings but day by day--not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. For, as stated in this week's thought nugget, there’s ALWAYS something to be thankful for.
An elderly lady in a nursing home said, “I thank you, Lord, for two good teeth, one upper and one lower. And I thank you that they meet!” Thankful for little things. Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) wrote more than 9,000 hymns during her lifetime. When she was just six weeks old, she became blind for life—due to a doctor’s incompetence. But despite her blindness, she refused to be bitter or feel sorry for herself: “If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” Thankful for trials. There’s ALWAYS something to be thankful for (Philippians 4:6, 7; Psalm 103:1-5). Find yours!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim.
[The above devotional was my reflection on Thanksgiving, November 2015. For more devotional messages and sermons, visit www.EAGLESonline.org/resources