While on military duty in Iraq, Air Force Chaplain Albert Michaels did everything he could to comfort the service members that attended his Sunday morning service on hot June day.
Chaplain Michaels delivered an unusual sermon on the subject of gratitude. That is, the importance of giving “thanks” to Almighty God for everything that happens to come their way. “For finding praise, happiness and joy even when there is evil, death and personal frustration can actually be periods when God’s blessings can be revealed and manifested,” said the Chaplain.
Upon completion of his sermon, Chaplain Michaels sent a small basket around for the assembled service members to contribute. When the little basket came back, there were just thirty-three one dollar bills and maybe a handful of change. In spite of the meager contributions, the chaplain raised his eyes and hands heavenward and prayed: “I thank you, Lord, for what has been received. For I know, Lord, that these airmen and women, marines, soldiers and sailor gave what they had to Iraqi children, your children, during the course of this day. Continue to bless these service men and women whose hands, through Your Most Holy Will, have rebuilt and built schools, hospitals, roads and homes for a people yearning to be free.”
What is the meaning and significance of this tale from the front? It is two fold. First, that America’s face is being represented well in Iraq by its young military men and women in spite of the extremely poor American media coverage of the full story of the American presence in a country that has know nothing but captivity and terror for more than thirty years. Second, sometimes when things do not go the way one expects them to, recall the chaplain’s experience and thoughtfulness for what was received than complain. For God is in control and will provide what is needed in due time—not when humankind thinks it is time.
In this regard, many Christians recall the words of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans where he writes: “Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good… But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath.” (Romans 2:7-8).