by Will Searcy
Our world has a lot of trouble right now. You can hardly turn on a television or look at your phone or tablet without seeing another example of death, destruction, and discouragement. While we must fight these evils in our world, I also think that we need to take a step back and remember the many blessings God has given us or else it would be easy to fall into despair. So, in taking a cue from Coach Tony Bennett’s Five Pillars, which helped guide his team to a record-setting season in the ACC (I had to sneak that in there), I would like to focus on “thankfulness.”
In keeping with the coaching metaphor, I believe taking a moment to appreciate the blessings in your life is akin to “getting back to the basics.” In any sport, as well as in other skills or crafts, elite level ability is built brick by brick upon foundational fundamentals. If one of those cornerstones cracks, the elite level skill that rests upon it will inevitably crumble into a disaster. I believe our faith and our spiritual lives are similar. We may want to discuss theology or debate how our faith compels us to take action in myriad ways against the evils of the world, but if we have no joy, if the very thing that inspired our faith to grow in the first place is absent, our higher level spiritual tasks and ambitions will be hollow.
Recently, I’ve had a song in my heart. It is one I listened to frequently to give me strength when my mother was going through the end stages of her battle with cancer, and one I’ve shared on this blog before. I’d like you to take a moment to listen to it.
The beauty of the melody and the richness of the lyrics of this song move my soul. They also speak to truths that are so relatable that anyone can listen and feel thankful for all God has done for us. Who hasn’t been awestruck by the echoing bass of a deep thunderclap? Who hasn’t stared up at the stars on dark night and been overwhelmed by the vastness of His Creation around us? Who hasn’t been refreshed by a cool breeze on a hot summer day? God in his original design crafted a beautiful wonderland for all of us to explore and enjoy. Each day we get to spend on this magnificent planet is filled with delights to the five senses He gave us. For that, we can all be thankful and give praise to God.
We must also harness this spirit of thankfulness and apply it to perhaps His greatest creation – our brothers and sisters. While we may have made a huge mess due to our free will, we were still made in God’s image with a plan for perfection. We must try to approach each other seeking the good God put in us before we assume the worst. When we experience that good, we must consciously appreciate the joy it can place in our hearts and the hope it gives our world.
As an example, this weekend was pretty non-descript. I had a busy week, so I mostly hung around the house all weekend with my family. You might even say it was boring. But, if I take the time to look back, I can recall the laughter of my son when he watched a video of dogs diving into the water chasing after their toys, and I can’t help but smile. I am thankful for the rest and peace I had with my wife and children in something as simple as eating hot dogs for dinner and watching a movie on the couch. I can be thankful for getting to enjoy one of my passions, watching Virginia basketball become the first team to ever win 17 regular season ACC games in one year (did I mention that already?).
The overall point is that the world will give us plenty of examples of how badly everything is going. It is up to us to have a humble, thankful heart and to focus on all the beauty and joy God has given us to combat those evils. Perhaps, with our peaceful and contrite hearts, we will begin to change some of the problems that surround us, because as Christ tells us in the Beatitudes,
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:5-9)