I think it was Joni Mitchell that sang the phrase, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone?” Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until we are forced to do without. This lesson was really brought home to Sue and me one year. First, a short circuit left us without phone service for several days. Next, the refrigerator went on the fritz for a few weeks forcing us to make use of coolers and running back and forth between the parsonage and the church kitchen. Then there was a prolonged “boil water” order necessitating the boiling of water or buying bottled water until the “all clear” came. Each of these disruptions to the normal comforts of our lives renewed our sense of gratitude for things we habitually take for granted. They also reminded us that, what amounted to short term inconveniences for us represent a constant reality for many people.
This Thanksgiving, why not cultivate an attitude of knowing and appreciating what we have before it’s gone? How much fuller could life be if we learned to be grateful for what is ours while we have it? And how much more generous we might be if we empathized with those who do without what we take for granted?
The eighth chapter of Deuteronomy in the Bible warns against letting comfort shorten our memory of all God does for us. Sometimes it is only when we have been temporarily deprived of normalcy that we truly recognize the extraordinary blessings hidden in plain sight all about us.
Perhaps we should heed the advice of the apostle Paul, who said that the secret of being content regardless of whether his circumstances reflected plenty or want, was the assurance of the one thing we never have to do without – the presence of Christ in our lives.