Thursday, November 24, 2016

Grace Awakening, Gratitude and Appreciation

Research conducted by Professor Robert Emmonds, University of California, Davis, has showed people would be happier, healthier, more able to deal with stress, more optimistic, and more willing to help others if they express appreciation at least five times per week.

The Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I am eager to share my gratitude and appreciation for Good Health, Relationships, and God.

On the first day of this year, I started to have back pain that got worse and worse.  Finally it was diagnosed to be Sciatica, a back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. That is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When something injures or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the lower back that spreads from hip to leg.  When having pain sitting, standing, moving, and sleeping, I felt very sad.  I thought I could never enjoy taking walks again.  Imagine how grateful I am to resume walking in our neighborhood with James!

Without health, I cannot move.  But without relationships, I would starve emotionally.

I am so grateful for family, friends and everyone who has been in my life, even just for a short while.

I thought of a young couple I met in Germany while serving with James at a Discipleship Training Conference in 2010.

The camp started with a revival message on “Grace Awakening.” Right afterward, we broke into small groups. As we introduced ourselves, we also asked each person to share briefly their experience of grace.

When it was her turn, a young woman hesitated and said, “I don’t feel God’s grace” ... We listened and she spilled her guts. “I didn’t want to come to this camp. A few months ago, my husband had surgery to remove brain tumors. Before then, he lost a job that was promised to him. Due to the economy downturn, that company retracted all their offers …”

We listened in silence. This young wife was obviously in distress. People did not know what to say. After some time, I offered to pray for her and asked everyone to join me. As I prayed, she started sobbing.

Afterward, she introduced me to her husband (who was in another group) in the hallway. He looked pale and very quiet. As she introduced us, I could tell she did not want me to ask him questions that might make him uncomfortable. She did not want him to know her burden.

As the conference progressed, I learned more and more from her. “We met in college 10 years ago when I was 19 and he 20. Our families always like each other and get along well. We got married and came to Germany together to attend the same graduate school. We both did well and received wonderful job offers.”

Each day, I noticed changes in her countenance. She became more and more relaxed and shared more with the group. On the last evening, she was the first one who stood up in front of the whole camp to share her testimony:

“I didn’t want to come to the camp. I always thought life was good … Ever since my husband got sick last year, our world turned upside down … I tried my best to take care of him after work. I knew he did not feel well and just tried to survive… Before his job offer was retracted, before he got sick, we had high hopes. We anticipated settling down with good income, buy our own house, have children …

On the first night of the camp, I said I didn’t feel grace at all … But when Teacher Chiang (Winnis) asked everyone to join her to pray for me, when she put her arms around me, I felt the warmth and hope. In the last few days, I realized I used to take things for granted … I could not accept one set back after another. I had resentment … Now I know God loves us and I can face tomorrow.”

When she finished, her husband stood up and shared.

“I didn’t want to come neither. Things were good. Then things had been bad … Sometimes I had headache so severe I didn’t know what to do. Most of the time, I felt weak and tired. In the last few months, my wife tried to read the Bible to me every night … I appreciated that. But I still felt very weak … I thought I would never get well. Could you believe that I did not have any headache in the last few days and I was able to attend all sessions at this camp? Now I know God loves me and my wife … She really understands me! She knows me better than my mom knows me!”

Their story is still so vivid.  It continues to motivate me to help people by the Grace of God.

I thank God for putting different people in my life.  I'm grateful for God who is with us.  After all, without God, I cannot live.

"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10)

"For in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28a)

I look forward to attending Thanksgiving Service in the morning with my church family, and having dinner in the evening with James' mom and extended family.

My heart is filled with gratitude to God, my family, friends, clients and all my readers! Would you like to share what you are most grateful for?  If you have a heavy heart, please tell me so that I can pray for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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