Back in elementary school, I remember a fourth-grade teacher who taught me a very simple lesson ... how to properly pronounce the word "Thanksgiving." It is a lesson I have never forgotten.
She explained, "When we use the word, 'alms-giving,' the accent is always on the word alms. When we say 'praise-giving' the accent is always on the praise. And when we say Thanksgiving, we must always remember to emphasize the thanks."
Every year at this time that simple thought causes me to review my own personal "attitude of gratitude" making certain I am giving thanks its proper emphasis in my life.
This year I find many friends going through difficult, personal times. Their "attitude of gratitude" is being challenged by a vague sense of hopelessness, fear, and despair. The housing-mortgage crash has cost our communities thousands of jobs. Many families are staring at a new reality; finding funds for not only their traditional family feast, but also enough to carry over for family Christmas gifts.
Sadly, we are a nation at war and the fighting has cost many families the lives of loved ones. For many, the Thanksgiving table will be solemnly set with one empty place. Several of my friends have received a disastrous diagnosis from the doctor and are dealing with the reality of mortality. That's the bad news. Here is the good news.
During one season of my life, I served on the staff of Dr. Robert Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral and was honored to accompany him as he made hospital visits to some of the members of his congregation. He would stride into the sterile hospital room with that massive presence and after making a few minutes of lighthearted conversation would always offer prayer. To this day, his prayers never cease to amaze me. The patient might be near death, the family sobbing at the bedside, yet, Dr. Schuller always started his prayer with these words, "Thank you, God …"
His list of "Thanks"-giving always seemed endless.
"Thank you for this life that has born so much fruit for your Kingdom. Thank you for this devoted family that is here to console one another. Thank you for this hospital and these dedicated nurses and doctors who work tirelessly to heal. Thank you that there is insurance to pay the bills. Thank you for the lifetime of memories we can all cherish. Thank you for the friendship I have enjoyed for so long. Thank you …" and the list went on and on.
Thankful at all times
These bedside prayers always remind me that even in the most difficult chapters of our life, we all have reason for "Thanks"-giving.
This year as you consider this special holiday, a day to gather with family, loved ones, and friends, enjoy a feast of food, no matter how big or small; let's make certain we consider our own personal "attitude of gratitude." Even in the worst of times, we are all, each in our own way, blessed beyond measure with many reasons to give "thanks."
Amid all the happenings of the four-day weekend, make certain you get some time alone with God. Thank Him for His constant provision and never-ending, never-failing loving kindness to you, your family, your church and yes, to America.
Let's make certain there is abundant "Thanks"-giving to God this year. When we pause and consider our individual lives, each of us can make a "Thank you God" list that is longer than the one above. God always pours into each of our lives, every day, abundant blessings that are indeed "new every morning."
Warren Duffy is a long time radio host in Los Angeles and currently is heard on Saturday afternoons on KWAVE 107.9 FM. To learn more, visit www.duffyandcompany.org.