One of the earliest memories I hold, of taking a sober look at my level of faith, was when a brother of much more maturity posed a kind of rhetorical question to me. He asked me to consider... "If I were an Ethiopian sheepherder, would I still be as thankful, outgoing and upbeat in my Christian walk?"
If I were a shoeless, skin-and-bones, hand-to-mouth, baked-by-the-scorching-sun-man, that could only see another day ahead of me the same as yesterday, and no hope of anything better in my future in this wretched existence, but I knew Jesus as my savior, would I be a thankful, faith-filled and effective messenger of Christ's immeasurable gift of salvation, hope and love?
As I've come to understand it, the exact same amount of grace, the same amount of forgiveness and promise of eternal happiness awaits every believer, no matter our present lot in life, no matter our past or current situation; be it here in America or on the arid parched desert of Africa.
Do you suppose that Ethiopian sheepherder might think to himself, "It'd sure be easier to display my faith, if I wasn't scraping and scratching just to have enough to feed myself and my children another day, let alone to tell others about the promise and eternal joy I have in my heart because of my relationship with Jesus".
And yet we know, there are mighty men of God there, affecting lives with that exact message of the amazing grace available to all their brothers and sisters, in the eternity-changing name of Jesus, even this minute.
I wonder if the shepherd sets aside certain special days of the year to give thanks for all the worldly comforts and privilege he has, (making it that much easier to feel grateful) in this life.
Lord , forgive me, and grant me a fresh level of Thanksgiving for the life of freedom and grace, of comfort and promise that I've been able to grow old in.
You are my only hope, in Jesus' name.