Thankful for hands, eyebrows, things you’ve never lost

I’m going to make a big assumption here: you have both your hands. And I’m going to make an even bigger assumption here: you’re not as thankful as you should be.

(Photo: Michael Hayman)

A couple months ago, a man received two hand transplants. Evidently, he’d been burned, but the doctors were able to successfully attach two new hands, only the third time in history. I heard about all this because I live in Louisville where the surgery took place.

What struck me, though, was how grateful this guy is. I’m not sure if he’s a Christian, but he sure seemed like it on TV. Perhaps everyone does after experiencing something like that.

This man was perfectly healthy before his accident, at least as far as hands go. But then he was burned. Then the transplants. Then the physical therapy. And now he’s slowly getting back to normal, though his hands will never be normal again.

So why’s he thankful?

I think this man is thankful because he lost so much and then was given so much. Getting new hands must have taken him from one of the lowest points in his life to one of the highest.

But consider you and I (I’m still assuming you have both of your hands). Objectively, you and I have more than this man has now. Our hands probably work better than his new ones ever will. But – I’ll just speak for myself here – I’m nowhere near as thankful for my hands as this transplant patient is.

As far as health goes, I’m better off than he is. As far as gratitude goes, I have a long way to go.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I keep coming back to this guy’s story. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but why does He have to take away first for us to notice Him giving anything? If He just gives, most of us never notice.

  • I’m not thankful for my hands, not daily.
  • I’m not thankful for the ability to walk, not when I’m freezing outside.
  • I’m not thankful for simple things like clean water to drink and air to breathe.

Thankful for eyebrows

My dad and I talked about this one day on the way to a Bible study years ago. The sun blared at both of us as it set on the horizon. Thankfully, we both had eyebrows and eyelashes and eyelids. We both could squint to protect ourselves from blindness. We were even able to admire the beauty of it all as we talked and prayed before the study.

If you had asked me last week, I might have said I’d never forget that time with my dad and how since then I’ve been thankful for eyebrows.

But really, I forget, like everyone else… and I’m not that thankful, not daily anyway. I still need the reminders. I think most of us still do, even when we’ve experienced tragedies in our lives that we assume we’ll never forget.

I don’t think God burned that guy’s hands just so He could remind me to be thankful. Maybe He did it to remind the guy, but even that sounds callous. Regardless, God definitely took advantage of the situation to remind me. Because I have both my hands, but I’m not as thankful as I should be.

Is it too much of an assumption to say the same is true for you?

Serving Suggestions:

(1) Count your blessings, on paper. What are some things you’ve never lost but that you should be thankful for? Think of things you might consider essentials, things you’d have trouble doing without but that no doubt some people do do without.

(2) Share these things with someone else. Tell people why you’re thankful, not just the things you’re thankful for but also why you’re thankful for them. Seriously, no one cares if I’m thankful for my hands until I tell them the story of the guy who lost his.

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