A KPBS program showed a tree with a sign nailed to it that read,
“What you take for granted,
others are praying for.”
At first glance I read that statement to mean that someone is praying for you, even for the things you take for granted. But, as I thought about it, I realized that’s not the message. The message is simple and sobering – the things you take for granted, others are praying for because they don’t have it.
During our first night in Mexico I got a terrible stomach ache. Immediately my mind was filled with all the warnings about not drinking the water. The hotel reportedly has filtered water. The on-line reviews all say that the tap water is safe to drink. When we first arrived, Christi and I drank big glasses of tap water and gave our boys bottled water. We did this to test the claims of the hotel and, if it wasn’t true, we didn’t want our boys to get ill. At 2 in the morning, I suddenly worried that we’d been duped. I prayed and the pain started to subside. My prayers were simple: “Please take this pain away so I can sleep and please protect Christi’s stomach so that she doesn’t become ill.” As I was lying in bed, praying, and doing a Lamaze-type breathing exercise, it dawned on me that I take digestion for granted – until, of course, I get a stomach ache. I know some people that do not, and cannot, take digestion for granted. They pray for a healthy, pain-free system just like what I take for granted.
NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett played professional football from 1971-1986. In a recent article, he said, it’s “no fun being in this body right now. Everything hurts.” The article goes on to explain the sheer volume of prescription drugs he has to take every day simply to live. Unlike Plunkett, I wake up most mornings pain free. And, most mornings I take that for granted.
As you know, North Korea is in the news. The citizens of that country don’t have a free press nor do they have the freedom of speech. By and large, the rights we take for granted, they pray for.
That note nailed to a tree is a good reminder for me to be thankful. To give praise to God for all the things I take for granted. All of them. Good digestion, living pain-free. I have large feet but have been blessed with shoes to cover them. I have clean water, fresh air, a safe and supportive work environment, a wonderful vocation, a healthy family and loving wife, great parents, mentors, friends, the ability to speak and write in English, and a country where I can live out and proclaim my faith without fear. That list is a mere glimpse of all the blessings I have received. And now, I will begin to pray for those who are praying for the things in which I take for granted.