While the wind howls in my window tonight, I’m thinking about a sweet old man who eats at the Salvation Army.
His normal toothless smile faded earlier today when someone mentioned the weather. “I’m not looking forward to the cold.” His quiet words reflected on many of the dear faces in line and my heart sank as I spooned some extra rice onto his plate. He probably doesn’t have much of a home, and he’s probably going to be awfully cold this winter.
I know these things. I know homeless people suffer in extreme weather. I see them walking down the road, pushing their carts, and I feel sorry for them. But it’s different when I see their faces every week now. When I hand them a plate full of food and get rewarded with a hearty grin. When that one lady with the little yellow hat comes through, blessing us in Jesus’ name. When I see their joy and how they love on each other. When I see how thankful they are. And while my heart breaks for them, I kind of envy them too.
When my toothless friend came back up for seconds, he nodded his head and thanked me profusely. “I’m just grateful for everything ya’ll do,” he said, smiling again. He’s about to face one of the first nights of what will probably be a long, hard winter. He’s worried about freezing in the days to come, yet words of thanks are overflowing from his heart to touch mine. I want a heart like his.
I wonder how many times I’ll learn this lesson; that true joy has nothing to do with our circumstances. To choose thanksgiving opens our eyes to all kinds of hope and doesn’t leave much room for the pain. It washes away the bitter and reminds us of our place in God’s hand. I want to be more like some of the impoverished people I’ve met. I want to find my peace in Christ alone. I want to know that if I had absolutely nothing to hold onto in this world, I would be satisfied in Him.
When you tuck your kids in tonight, please remember to pray for the many people who are suffering this winter. Let’s collect some blankets and make some soup and ease their burden as much as possible. And let’s remember to be thankful for every good gift that comes from our Father, even in the difficult places of life, for it is only here that we find pure joy.