Another Word…by Gus Keiser

August 7, 2017

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.

                                                                                                           Psalm 30:4

 I want to share a true story with you; one told to me by a leader from North Carolina I met quite a number of years ago at a national youth leader’s conference.

A church group (not his) from New Bern, North Carolina had traveled to the Caribbean on a mission trip. As part of the week’s experience, their host took them to a leper colony on the island of Tobago… proof that cruise ships and exotic getaways are only a small part of what life is like on these tropical “paradises”. 

While there, they held a worship service in the campus chapel. As you can imagine, the sight of emaciated lepers filing into their seats on the bare pews bore deeply into the mind and heart of each visitor to this unfamiliar scene.

 But no memory left its mark like this one: when the visiting pastor asked if anyone in the crowd had a favorite hymn they’d like to sing, a lone patient seated awkwardly on the back row, facing away from the front, turned her body slowly and with great effort in the pastor’s direction.

 “Body” would perhaps be a generous description of what remained of hers. Her face had no nose, no lips…just bare teeth askew within a chalky skull.  And yet, raising her bony nub of an arm to see if she might be called on to make a request, she appealed with croaky voice, “Could we sing Count Your Many Blessings?”

 Leave it to a grotesquely deformed leper to remind us that grateful people are characterized by thankful words, while ungrateful people are given to murmuring and complaining.

 There are those among us who do very little other than to grumble at why God put thorns on roses. But, thank the Lord, there are others who notice, with awe and wonder, that God has put roses among the thorns.  May we still sing our old familiar songs, hopefully to include Count Your Many Blessings, even when overwhelmed by ever-present difficulties.

Lord, help us to count our many blessings, blessings that have come from your hands and your heart. Amen.

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