(The Story of John Stein by Mary Alysse Dodds)
I wasn’t thankful. I hated life. Pain was everywhere. Even just in the few neighbors around me, I thought, many are abused or in pain. North Korea is a giant concentration camp where starving people eat grass and bark. Life isn’t mostly awesome for most people.
I was a workaholic to escape being needed by my five kids and wife. I was hoping for a time in my life when everyone would leave me alone, and I could do what I wanted.
Then I was in a hospital bed coughing up blood, feeling like my lungs were drowning, feeling like every slight noise cracked my skull.
“You have six months to live,” they told me once.
Oh good. I’ll get out of this life; that’s awesome. The other half of me yelled you’re a big, selfish, pig-jerk. You just want to escape from life. You have a wife and kids. You’re an idiot.
I saw the things I clung to for what they really were—spider webs. I have absolutely no control. I could die in an instant. I’m completely at God’s mercy.
I’m thankful for being gravely ill. It made me realize I was a complete jerk with a really crappy attitude.
I knew there must be a way to have a good attitude, and I needed to figure it out. Thankfulness is the opposite of being a selfish, prideful jerk. So I’m intentional about thinking about thankfulness.
I could pretend the good things in my life are because of me and brag about it. But no one likes people like that, and it’s just not reality. Anything good that happens is because of God.
I ponder God’s goodness and make the conscious effort to say thank you. When I get good things, I thank God and it quiets my desire to say, “Hey look at me. I was right.” My thankfulness makes me less arrogant. Everyone hates proud people.
I was miserable because I was self-centered and things weren’t working out the way I wanted. My self-centeredness made me feel lousy. But when I thank God and give him the glory I feel good.
So of course I want to always be thankful; it’s in my best interest. Thankfulness takes me from a self-centered world where I’m a pig and a jerk and transports me to a place where I enjoy my glorious God and my happy heart. (And hopefully I’m less of a jerk now.)
Thankfulness teleports me from my delusional reality to the actual reality.
I want to be thankful because… well, you know what Madame Blueberry says, “A thankful heart is a happy heart.”
John Stein is husband, father of five (including me), and grandfather of ten and counting. He’s a software engineer who spent four years in China studying Bible translation. He wears whatever’s most comfortable or suits his mood (if it gets a rise, good). He plays the bass, but his favorite pastime is thinking. Though he’s a recluse, he can talk for hours about God and he cries for persecuted Christians.