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The power of gratitude

Between 1943 and 1944 – Western Europe – The skies over France, the Low Countries, and the German homeland thunder with Americans bombing during the day and the British bombing at night. 

However, during this constant bombardment, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) still has many fighter planes and talented pilots to fly them.  The German army still has plenty of anti-aircraft canons and artillery.    

The American and British bombers are under constant attack from the air and ground.  One day, a young bomber pilot is leading his squadron to destroy a munitions factory in western Germany.  Just before they reach their target, Luftwaffe fighter jets appear out of nowhere. 

The American fighter jets, that are protecting the bombers, begin their engagement.  All of the sudden, a sole German fighter appears from the east.  The American pilot freezes for a second.  He knows that he is directly in the crosshairs of the fighter.  A direct hit this close would be easy to make and would bring the bomber down and kill the American servicemen aboard.

The pilot knows that he is about to die and waits for the Luftwaffe pilot to fire. 

Nothing happens.  The fighter just passes by the bomber and disappears.  The American pilot and his crew, will live to fight another day. 

1984 – Carrollton, Ga. – 8:00pm – The pilot is visiting his family in west Georgia.  He is also trying to go to sleep.  His sleep is postponed by his young grandson’s constant questions about life, politics, and the war. 

The boy’s last question deals with the definition of “gratitude.”  The pilot perks up and tells the story of the Luftwaffe pilot’s failure to take that direct shot.  He tells the boy, “That is the definition of gratitude.  You cannot be grateful and negative at the same time.”

2020 has been a challenging year in America. 

There has been civil unrest, COVID, and a strong political shift toward socialism/communism. Our enemies across the globe are keeping a keen eye on the United States and see weakness. Under these circumstances, even the most upbeat person can get caught up in the negativity. 

Yet, it is the time of Thanksgiving. The power of gratitude is far stronger than circumstances. 

We face adversity throughout this life. These challenges come in many forms. Some are relatively manageable; some are devastating.

I am not a minister, religious theologian, or graduate of religious studies.

I am just one of God’s children who reads and has an awareness of some of the natural laws that God has provided.

God placed each of us on Earth for a particular reason that we should be grateful for. We may not know what that reason is yet. But, there are as many reasons as there are people.

Some of us are good communicators, hard workers, compassionate, diligent, slow to anger, and/or enjoy helping others, to name just a few good human attributes. Each of these God given talents can be used to reveal His plan.

But, this is much easier said than done.  My faith is often tested the most during times of adversity.  But, adversity can also forge the strength one needs to meet the challenges ahead.

The difference is in how we react to challenges.

One evening by the campfire, an old friend told me that Paul’s letters to the churches provided clear instructions on how to deal with adversity; gratitude.

Paul wrote of gratitude as he was being held in a prison in Rome awaiting execution. How could someone be grateful for anything under these circumstances? Yet, his gratitude played a large part in his many books in the New Testament that Christians read and study every day.

Does this power still exist?  It may not seem like it.  But, I recently decided to test it out based on my friend’s advice. 

He told me that he would wake each morning and make a list of all the things he was thankful for that morning.  The experience simply brought about a sense of peace.

Today, it all starts with the gratitude list, moving into the day asking for His guidance, and doing the best that I can.

The pilot was right.  The power of gratitude is within all of us.  We just have to embrace it.