Summary: This message looks at why we sometimes fail to be thankful
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
Thus begins Dr. Seuss’s book “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are”. First published in 1973 Seuss’s tale takes our hero, only identified as “Duckie”, on a journey to show him how blessed he is, but it is done by showing how unfortunate other people are.
Perhaps your parents did that to you when you didn’t want whatever it was they were serving for supper and they would remind you of the children in Africa or India who would be more than happy to have what you were being served. And I discovered the appropriate response was not “well let’s put it in an envelope and mail it to them.” Or perhaps you remember the pithy little saying from yesteryear, “I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” And I discovered the appropriate response there was not “So I took his shoes, he didn’t need them.”
In 2010 I was teaching in Ghana in West Africa, People have asked when I’m going back and that would be next January and I will be talking more about that in the days ahead. But back to the story, I was in Ghana when the news of the Earthquake in Haiti reached us and I was intrigued by the response, Joe Ocran the National Superintendent of Ghana told me “In Africa we watch Haiti because it reminds us how lucky we are to live in Africa”
Let’s finish up the story. (Read last page of book)
And maybe that is normal to put our lives in perspective by looking at the lives of others. Perhaps we have become so used to what we have that we lose perspective on how lucky we are to have it. Which is why Thomas Fuller commented “Eaten bread is soon forgotten.”
It doesn’t take long for us to become accustomed to what we have, and so our first house which seemed so massive and beautiful when we first moved in soon became simply ordinary and it isn’t long before that new vehicle which impressed us so much when we drove it off the lot becomes simple transportation.
In the scripture that was read earlier Paul gives direction to the early Christ Followers on how they were to live their lives and he finishes with this bit of advice Ephesians 5:20 Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We probably don’t often think about how little these people had compared to what we have today. 2000 years ago life was rough, Ephesus was located in what is now Turkey and it was occupied by the Romans, who reigned as conquerors. In many ways it was exponentially worse off than what we would refer to as a third world country today.
Remember there would have been no running water, no sanitation, no garbage collection, no electricity, no modern school system, no human rights and no hospitals. There was hunger, there was persecution for being followers of Christ, there was disease and there were high infant mortality rates. And Paul tells these folks Ephesians 5:20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when those early believers stopped and thought about it they were probably better off than many people were in that day and age. And because they didn’t know what we would have today they didn’t know what they were missing then. When I was growing up I didn’t miss the computers and video games of today and five hundred years from now when society looks back and wonders how we existed with the little we had in the way of technology they won’t understand how blessed we were.
“Have I ever told you how lucky you are?” Because the reality is that we don’t often take the time to reflect on how blessed we are, sometimes it’s too easy to compare ourselves to those who have more than us than to look at those who have less. Because we know in our heart of hearts that those who have less than us could have what we have if they only worked harder just as we know those who have more than us are just lucky.
In the stories of Jesus there are no more dramatic accounts then those who were healed of leprosy.
Lepers lived without friends, family or future. They lived a life of tragedy without a home and without a hope. Have you ever heard someone say “They treated me like a leper” or “they acted like I had leprosy?” Back in the eighties when AIDS was just surfacing and society and science still didn’t have a grip on how it was spread or who would contract it you would often hear those who had acquired AIDS make that statement, “I feel like a leper.” And while I wouldn’t want to minimize the hurt that people feel when they ostracized by others it is doubtful that anyone in this time could ever fully comprehend what life as a leper was like 2000 years ago.