Monday, November 14, 2011


By Gerald Cowan

     People in this country have more to be thankful for than any others on earth. Not only in material possessions and opportunities for advancement. Not only in the quality and quantity of food. Not only in social freedom.  Not only in spiritual freedom to worship God as one sees fit – or not to worship Him at all, if that is one’s choice.  There’s all of that and much, much more. So what do we do about it? Maybe not you, and not me. But generally, as a nation of people, we complain because some of our neighbors still have more that we do. We complain that others want to limit our freedom, maybe even take away some liberties we have had in the past.
     We spend a lot of time in the complaint department. Mike Yates tells the following story. Upon entering a department store a certain lady was startled when a band began to play and a dignified executive pinned an orchid on her lapel and handed her a check for a thousand dollars. She was the store’s one millionth customer. A television camera was focused on her and a reporter wanted to interview her. “Tell us,” he asked, “What did you come in the store for today?”  She hesitated for a minute, then said: “I’m on my way to the Complaint Department.”
     Aren’t we just like that? Rather than be thankful we can express our preference by voting, we complain because the wrong person got elected. Rather than be thankful that we have the best medical facilities, best medicines, and best medical practitioners in the world, we complain about how long we have to wait at the doctor’s office, and how expensive the medicine is that the doctor prescribes for us. Rather than be thankful to have a job, we complain about having to work at all when what we really want is a free ride to prosperity – a guaranteed income whether we work or not. There seems to be no end to our ingratitude.
     And when it comes to religion we aren’t much better. Rather than thank God that He cared enough to sacrifice His Son for our salvation we complain about how hard it is live the Christian life. Rather than thank God that we have freedom of religion, we complain. People complain that the sermons are too long or too complex or too shallow or too dull. The songs are too slow, too fast, too sad, too dreary, too frivolous and too emotional. There isn’t enough excitement, things are not serious enough, worship is not entertaining enough, everything is too dull. Beside that, the church makes  too many rules. There ought to be more freedom of mind and less legalism, less interference in one’s personal life. Is there no end to our ingratitude?
     Maybe, just for a little while – we wouldn’t want it to last very long – but maybe if we had to do absolutely everything for ourselves, couldn’t do anything for others or have anything done for us by others, and only got exactly what we really deserved for whatever we had done, maybe then we might learn to be grateful.
     If you can’t be grateful for what you have received, be grateful for what you have escaped. If you can’t be grateful because you haven’t received some good things you think you deserve, be grateful that you haven’t received many of the bad things that have come to others, whether deserved or not.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

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