One fine day, as I was flipping through channels and settled for News updates on BBC, I watched the Australian Prime Minister heckled as he visited one of the areas devastated by fires. It was a totally different reaction from the usual visits by a leader of the Government. One of the residents followed him while loudly complaining that their area was forgotten because it was not Sydney and not naturally endowed. The government rescue efforts were always late and sub-par.
I could only imagine the weight on the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison bore. These fires have been burning and still burn as I write. It is a nation in distress. National parks are in flames, animals are dying, people are dying, whole towns are disappearing. The firefighters are working tirelessly, they are exhausted.
The fire rages on.
I cannot imagine what the residents are going through seeing such an old town with a well-preserved history being razed to the ground. It is very gut-wrenching.
The town remained in the shadow of the fire and pictures are still hazy. I could hear the unvoiced concerns and anxiety about their future. Mostly, though, the grief. The utter hopelessness of loss. The many what-ifs. The crushed expectations.
King David ( 1 Samuel 30) returns from Ziklag to find his camp in ruins. The Amalekites had burnt it down. Their families had been taken into captivity. His men turn on him to stone him, he breaks down. A loud wail goes out from all the men. These are Mighty Men, they had slain all the Philistine giants and amassed wealth in very distressing times. They had grown from bandits into a Mighty Army while still being pursued by their fellow countrymen. These grown men wailed until there was no strength in them.
David chooses to then encourage Himself in the Lord. In common speak, He chooses to look for hope by counting his blessings.
It is difficult, looking at soot and ash to begin to even give thanks. It is difficult when your dreams are crushed. It is difficult when you are at ground zero. It is difficult when it is hazy. It is difficult when it hurts. It is difficult when your heart is broken.
It is difficult.
Where does one start? Maria in Sound of Music advises, ‘from the very beginning.’
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey
What do you have? Observe Yourself, mention each observation out loud.
I am thankful that I am alive.
I am thankful for my eyes that see this ruin.
I am thankful for my nose that smells the decay.
I am thankful for my ears that hear the fire trucks.
I am thankful for my arms that hold this bucket of water.
I am thankful for tears that express my pain and wash away the sting of the smoke.
I am thankful for a mouth to say this out loud.
Observe Your environment.
Look up or look down, change your view.
David lifts his eyes to the hills (Psalm 121, 123); the gates lift their heads. (Psalm 24).
Gratitude brings you more choices. It brings new perspectives. It will bring to you the feeling of gratitude.