from Ian Toone, lay member of New Life Church Derby

EARLIER this week, many of our American friends will have been celebrating Thanksgiving. We can all think of things for which to be grateful, and it can be beneficial to develop a general attitude of gratitude every day of our lives, rather than confine it to one day every year.

Sometimes, life can seem so desperate that it can be difficult to see everything for which we can be thankful, but good can often emerge from dire circumstances.

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells of being with her sister Betsy in a Nazi concentration camp. They had been put there for hiding Jews in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland during the Second World War.

During a time of prayer, shortly after their arrival in the camp, Corrie heard her sister giving thanks for the fleas in their barracks.

Corrie was astonished that Betsie could be thankful for fleas, but she later found out that the guards would not come near their barracks because of the fleas, and this gave them freedom to hold services in the barracks, where they could read the Bible and pray with the other women. God used the fleas to free the women from the rigid surveillance of the guards and give them freedom to worship Him.

Richard Wurmbrand, a Lutheran minister who promoted the Christian faith in Romania during the time of a strict Communist regime, was regularly imprisoned for his faith.

On one occasion, he picked up a rusty nail from the floor as he was being dragged to one of the darkest, dingiest dungeons in the prison. He was able to use that nail to tap out Morse code messages on the water pipes in his cell. These could be heard in all the other cells in the prison, enabling him to communicate and even pray with other prisoners.

Theologians use the concept of “common grace” to refer to how God shows goodness to all people, regardless of whether they believe in Him.

We all benefit from having the breath of life, food to eat, shelter to protect us from the elements, family and friends. Let’s take time to thank God for these things which we often take for granted, and let’s cultivate gratitude as an attitude and choice.