What I Am Grateful for This Year
In the larger scheme of things, what I'm particularly grateful for this year is no big deal to many. And that’s actually my point.
I had cataract surgery.
In addition to the cataract, I had an astigmatism that made it difficult for me to see through eyeglasses. I could see but not like I used to be able to. Eyewear could not correct the blurriness. In fact, because of cataracts, the world had a yellowish hue to it. But, after cataract surgery in my left eye, which involved a toric lens implant, the world has become bright and beautiful. All has become sharp and clear. And, I am only halfway through. The other eye is yet to be done.
I have said half a dozen times to friends, "We live in a wonderful day and age. One hundred years ago, people went blind because of cataracts." I then added, “As well, I have had tooth implants, and a hundred years ago people really had no other choice but to just lose their teeth. Even worse, many people lost both their sight and their teeth, and would slowly give up their will to live, eventually dying.”
In talking to my son Jonathan, he reminded me about himself and his gratefulness along these lines. "I have had eight surgeries: Four knee surgeries, two back surgeries and two surgeries for a hernia. If I had lived 150 years ago, I would be having chronic pain and great difficulty in walking. I would not be able to work and provide for my family, given the agricultural era."
He then said, "Dad, think about it. We have so much because of modern medicine and disease prevention. We have so many material possessions. And for most of us, no roving bands of marauders to live in fear of on a daily basis. We have lives that are incredibly wonderful simply because of when and where we were born. We have much to be thankful for.”
But then Jonathan put to words a truth that unfortunately has become all too true for most of us who have lived our entire lives in the modern Western world. “On the other hand, why be thankful when we expect these blessings? Why have faith when little faith is needed?" (Is this a reason Jesus said in Luke 18:8, “when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” In the final age, who will think they need Him?)
To Jonathan’s last point serves as a reminder that we should be thankful this Thanksgiving. We have benefited from those who have gone before us, and hopefully we will never lose sight of such realities.
As I reflected further, I was reminded how God has blessed physicians over the centuries. I think of Luke, who wrote the Gospel and the book of Acts. Did you know he was a doctor? Paul refers to him as "Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). From Luke's day to the present, physicians have learned more and more about the body that God created. For instance, they have become so proficient with cataract surgery, that the success rate is now listed as 98 percent!
Bottom line, I am the recipient of scientific research that has prevented me from going blind and being toothless! I am grateful.
By the way, many believe Paul’s eyesight went bad. He wrote, “For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me” (Galatians 4:15). Commentators suggest the Galatians' love for the apostle was so great that they wished to give their eyes to him so he could see. Some think he could not write well later in life, so he greeted the readers on parchment with large, unclear letters. To the Galatians, he wrote, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand" (Galatians 6:11). We read in 2 Thessalonians 3:17, "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write." In other places, someone else took Paul’s dictation and penned the epistle for him. For example, another letter of Paul’s, Romans, includes: "I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord" (16:22).
Based on Paul's experience, as I sit at this computer, I realize that given my eyesight and having no corrective surgery, eventually the aged Emerson would not be able to compose even a simple article like this on a computer screen.
Thus, I am grateful. I can see. I can eat.
I also know that in giving thanks from a grateful heart, there is a positive chemical reaction in the body. Not only am I thankful for health, my health comes from a grateful heart.
As you gather around the Thanksgiving table this year and think about what in your life you are most thankful for, consider the health, abilities, and benefits you have today simply due to the fact that you live now and not 150 years ago. What benefits and blessings have you grown up “expecting,” as my son put it, and have not expressed gratefulness to God for? I suggest for you to express your gratefulness in front of family and friends. The added health that will come from your grateful heart just may benefit you more than the turkey.