Brian reached for a mug from the shelf. While waiting for the kettle to boil he studied the picture on the front, a narrow path leading through lush green foliage, across the fields, and towards the bright light in the far distance. As usual, he put himself into the picture.
“Here I am Lord,” he said, “with my face towards you and joy in my heart. Thank you, Lord.”
It hadn’t always been this way. On the back of the shelf stood an old black mug, a symbol of what he had once been, a miserable and bitter young man. One-time friends deserted him as they tired of his moaning, negative attitudes.
“You’re a glass-half-empty person,” they told him. “You’re never happy. You always see the dark side of things, but you’ve got so much to be thankful for.”
Brian couldn’t see anything to be thankful for. It seemed everyone was against him, and was it his fault that his car broke down, that he never had enough money, that he couldn’t keep a job. No, it was the lousy boss, or the rough roads that were harsh on his car, or that waitress who wouldn’t go out with him. Why was everyone against him?
He was experiencing the truth of the words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
Rejoice and men will seek you;
Grieve and they turn and go
They want full measure of all your pleasure
But they do not need your woe.
He couldn’t quite pin down the time the transformation began. Perhaps it was when those guys from youth group came around and helped him clear up his flat. Perhaps it was that tract the guy in the city centre handed him one day. Perhaps it was that sermon his friend, Mike, took him to hear about the grace of God.
“You’ve been saved by grace,” the preacher had said. “Now live by grace. God is there to help you every step of the way. Don’t hold grudges and unforgiveness against anybody. After all, God doesn’t hold your sins against you.”
Brian saw his life as it was, miserable and sad. He determined to make use of his time between jobs to study God’s word, really study, not just pick a verse from here or there, but to actually read it, try to understand, and apply it to his own life.
“Lord, I want to believe what you say,” he prayed. “Please guide me and help me to believe.”
He looked up verses on being thankful, and was surprised at what he found. In everything give thanks, he read, be thankful for everything. Everything? Well, that hadn’t been his way. His habit was to grumble and complain about everything. He determined to change.
Step by step his life had been transformed. Oh, it didn’t look like much change from the outside, he still didn’t have a job, or a girlfriend, or much money. But his attitudes had changed. Every day he looked for things he could be thankful for. Every morning when he woke he thanked God for his love and forgiveness, for his grace and mercy. He found himself laughing more as he looked for the funny side of things, instead of focusing on the doom and gloom around him.
Mike flung open the door and loped into his flat.
“Hey, Brian,” he said. “Can I have a coffee with you?” He slapped him on the back and reached for a cup to make his drink. “It’s a pleasure to come over these days, now you’re a glass-half-full guy, instead of that old moaner we used to know.”
“Ha,” laughed Brian, lifting up his own cup. “Glad you’ve noticed. By the way, isn’t it a glorious day out there?”
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