The various stressors of life were beginning to get to me. When I came home from work after a long day of difficult operations, all I wanted to do was jump into bed, curl up and go to sleep. Amy was on night duty, which added to my feelings of discouragement and frustration. And to top it all, my allergies, which have been playing up a lot over the last few days, were at their zenith! All my 'difficulties' played like a stuck record over and over in my head and I called off one of the practices so that I could stay at home and moan. When I found that the heater, which had been threatening to give up the ghost ever since we came back, had finally done so, I felt there could be no one as miserable as I...!! It was certainly not a terrible day, not even close to it. But I guess my psyche loves a good moan once in a while and today I really felt like one!!!
But it was not to be. Having been very irregular with my reading, there is a huge backlog of stuff waiting for me every day when I open my internet reader. And today, I thought I would glance through one or two of them before I dozed off. With Amy at work, there was no necessity to get dinner and I was in no mood to even heat up something from the fridge. But the first article I read brought me back to my senses double-quick! It was a short article on the virtue of gratitude and it contained the moving story of Martin Rinkart, who wrote the well-beloved hymn, Now Thank We All Our God. Rinkart was a pastor who served in the walled town of Eilenberg, Saxony, which was a refuge for political and military fugitives during the Thirty Years War. Not only did this cause various armies to ransack it three times, but the overcrowding brought on a deadly epidemic of the Black Plague in 1637. Rinkart found himself the sole pastor remaining after one ran away and he buried two on the same day. The next few months were times of unspeakable hardship as Rinkart conducted upto 50 funerals every day and about 4500 in one year. Amazingly, it was during this time that he found the strength and inspiration to write these beautiful words.
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
By the time I had finished reading the article, I was a chastened man. Ashamed of my pettiness and ingratitude for all I had received. Penitent of my sin of allowing the minute inconveniences of life to crowd out the big picture of God's mercy and faithfulness. As I reflected on the many stories of people of God for whom peace and contentment came from within and were independent of circumstances, I found my contrite soul beginning to sing again. And gratitude for my life and for the timely reminder to count my blessings welled up within me... Oh that this lesson will not be easily forgotten....