I am indebted to J. Lee Grady for reminding us of what he calls “10 basic blessings that you should be thankful for.” The full account of what he has to say is available at www.charismamag.com. I list here only the ten things, along with some relevant facts.
1. Clean water – 884 million people lack access to clean water.
2. A bathroom – 40% of the world’s population does not have a toilet.
3. Electricity – 1.6 billion people live without any electricity.
4. Shelter – 2.5 million in America are homeless; 640 million children worldwide do not have shelter.
5. Food – 28% of people in developing countries are estimated to be under weight or have stunted growth.
6. Your stove – 2.5 million people use fuel wood, charcoal, or animal dung to meet their energy needs.
7. Income – Most of humanity has an income of less than $10.00 a day.
8. Education – Nearly one billion cannot read a book or write their names.
9. Health – 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized. Annually there are 300-500 million cases of malaria, with one million fatalities.
10. Freedom – While freedom to worship according to one’s conscience is widespread, an average of 400 Christians around the world die or are imprisoned for their faith daily.
We can also be thankful for the thousands of charitable organizations – “the points of light” as President Bush I called them – that spend billions annually to alleviate human suffering, a testimony to all the generosity there is in our troubled world. Habitat for Humanity, for example, has surpassed in building one million “decent” homes. Generosity, prized as a noble virtue among all cultures, appears to have a place in the hearts of us all.
And yet when Paul refers to “perilous times” to come he lists “unthankful” among the vices (2 Timothy 3:2). Theologians often esteem generosity as the “queen of the virtues,” and they see ingratitude as among the grossest of sins. Generosity is God’s gift of grace, while gratitude is our response to that grace.
One thing appears evident: gratitude begets generosity, and generosity begets gratitude. A generous person is a thankful person, and a thankful person a generous person.
This Thanksgiving can be special. You can count to ten all around the table!