Text and Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio
“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” – Randy Pausch
In everything, the Holy Bible urges, gives thanks. The following story, which reportedly happened in Africa, proves it.
Once upon a time, a king had a close friend whom he grew up with. This friend, however, had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life – either positive or negative – and remarking, “This is good!”
One day, the two friends were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. But at one point in time, the friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns. After taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it, and his thumb was blown off.
Examining the situation, the friend made his usual remark, “This is good!” To which the king replied, “No, this is not good!” When they came back to the kingdom, the king proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that was forbidden. Cannibals captured him and took them to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake, and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king had a missing thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than the whole. So, they untied the king and sent him on his way home.
While resting at his kingdom, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He then went immediately to the jail and spoke with his friend. “You were right, it was good that my thumb was blown off,” the king told him.
And the king proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this,” the king said.
Again, the friend replied with his usual remark: “No. This is good!” Surprised by his answer, the king inquired, “What do you mean, ‘This is good?’ How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”
“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you. And the cannibals would have eaten me!”
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today,” reminds author William A. Ward. “Have you used one to say, “Thank you?’” To which Meister Eckhart adds, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.”
“I live in the space of thankfulness – and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased.” Do you know who said those words? If you care to know, the statement comes from the mouth of Oprah Winfrey.
How can this well-known American television personality ever give thanks? To think of, she was born out of wedlock and was given to her grandmother’s care shortly after birth. At nine, she was sent to live with her mother. She was repeatedly raped by a teenage cousin and later sexually abused by other family members. “I was, and still am, severely damaged by the experience. I unconsciously blamed myself for those men’s acts,” she told the world in 1985.
Winfrey thanked her friend and mentored Maya Angelou for turning her life around. “You’re saying thank you because your faith is so strong that you don’t doubt that whatever the problem, you’ll get through it,” Maya told her. “You’re saying thank you because you know that even in the eye of the storm, God has put a rainbow in the clouds. You’re saying thank you because you know there’s no problem created that can compare to the Creator of all things. Say thank you!”
Indeed, how easy is it to say, “Thank you.” But oftentimes, it is harder to do so. The Bible is replete with stories of not giving thanks to the person who has done something great for them.
One such story was recorded in Luke 17:11-19. As Jesus went to a village, ten men who had leprosy (the Greek word was used for various diseases affecting the skin – not necessarily leprosy) met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked the Healer.
Jesus wondered: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this person?”
“Gratitude,” Cicero states, “is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” But “we often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude,” Cynthia Ozick reiterates. A Chinese proverb urges that when you eat bamboo sprouts, always remember the man who planted them.
Silent gratitude isn’t much use to a person who deserves it. How to be grateful, says Albert Schweitzer instructs, is “to educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”
Say thanks. Appreciate someone. Give encouragement. Buddha reiterates, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”