A lot to say thanks for
Saturday, December 27 2003
We do have some huge challenges in TT. Yes, there is darkness, but the light far outshines the darkness. Yes, there is evil, but the good far outweighs the evil. Yes, there is pain, but peace is far more wide-spread...It’s impossible to have a bright New Year if you take with you only the darkest experiences of the Old Year.
As we approach the end of a year, there is that natural tendency to reflect, recount and take inventory. There is the retrospect look. There are reasons for cheer and there are reasons for regrets. There is pain and there is praise. Sentiments are expressed, largely based on experiences, perspectives and preferences of individuals. In our Trinidad and Tobago, we have already had some key voices declaring that 2003 has been a bad year. And they may each have a valid point, depending on the perspective and context. For example, most people may not blame the Acting Commissioner of Police for saying that 2003 has been a bad year. We all know of the frightening, record-breaking crime statistics. But then again, the term “bad” in this regard, is really quite a relative one. Those of us, who have lived a few years ago, know that back then when the number of murders and serious crimes was much smaller, and kidnapping was non-existent, we labelled some of those years “the worst.”
Today, however, we praise those same years as “the good old days.” And I don’t want to sound like a prophet of doom, but who knows, in a short time from now, we may well be favourably talking about the good old 2003 “when crime was so low.” Today soon becomes yesterday. And in a world where the Scriptures say “evil men shall wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13), the darkness of today is like light tomorrow. You’re sure right, things may not be as they used to be. But let’s note that they may not be bad as they could yet be. The point is, things may be bad, but it could have been much worse, so there is still a great deal to be thankful for. Yes, there is darkness, but the light still far outshines the darkness. Yes, there is evil, but the good far outweighs the evil. Yes, there is pain, but peace is far more widespread than pain. True, there has been a record number in crime. But I can assure you that in TT the law-abiding citizens by far, very far, out-number the bandits and law-breakers. We have something to be thankful for.
The day-to-day affairs in our lives usually go the right way, much more than they take a negative course. There may be a road fatality on a particular day. And this is indeed sad, quite sad. But, what about the tens of thousands who would have used the roads on that very day, and returned to their homes and families perfectly safe. Must we let the one unpleasant experience cramp us from saying thanks for the multiplied thousands of pleasant, blessed ones? People die everyday under varying circumstances. But even so, I can bet you, we have a lot more people alive than dead on any one day. The same can be said about sickness and good health. We may have some hungry people among us, but clearly, there are many, many more that are filled. There is always much more to be thankful for, than to weep about. A retrospect on 2003 will reveal just that. We may have our challenges in TT. The waters may get rough at times and the boat may be rocked by some particularly stormy waters. We may even be tempted to cry, “Captain, the ship is sinking!” Or, beyond this, like the disciples of old, we may scream, “Lord, save us.” Whatever the complexion of the times; whatever the intensity or enormity of the challenges, may I dare say that our God is still in charge in this land. There are still a number of praying souls in this land and there is much more good than evil — plenty to praise God for!
It is my humble view that too many times we dwell much too much on the negative, while overlooking the greater positives. This goes a great deal to our disadvantage. We end up majoring in minors. We see molehills as mountains and look for a ghost behind every post. We therefore put ourselves under much greater pressure than is necessary. True, there is an indiscipline problem in our schools which require concern and special attention. But have you taken notice that it’s only about two percent of our schools that are really seriously affected, and that the other 98 percent are largely okay? Have you noticed that in the schools that are experiencing problems, it’s only a few students (and/or teachers) who give the entire school a bad name? An attitude of gratitude takes our focus on the positive side. This keeps our attention on the brighter side and consequently removes a lot of the unnecessary pressures and strains of life. The brighter always makes it lighter. As we give praise to God for the brighter sides of the past, the challenge becomes lighter, in terms of facing the future. It’s impossible to have a bright New Year if you take with you only the darkest experiences of the Old Year. The Apostle Paul exhorts: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Th 5:18). Yes, you may yet have many outstanding needs in your life. But there is a golden rule of thanksgiving: Praise God for what you have, and He’ll give you what you need.