Is Your Gratitude Obvious to Others?

GratitudeA few years ago, I read everything I could find by Henri Nouwen.

His writings were formative and very encouraging.  On one occasion, I read his book Gracias.  The book is actually a journal chronicling Nouwen’s time spent in Peru and Bolivia.  Near the end of the book, he writes:

The title of this journal summarizes what I found, learned, and heard.  The word that I kept hearing, wherever I went, was: Gracias!  It sounded like the refrain from a long ballad of events.  Gracias a usted, gracias a Dios, muchas gracias — thank you, thanks be to God, many thanks!  I saw thousands of poor and hungry children, I met many young men and women without money, a job, or a decent place to live.  I spent long hours with sick, elderly people, and I witnessed more misery and pain than ever before in my life.  But in the midst of it all, that word lifted me again and again to a new realm of seeing and hearing: Gracias!  Thanks!  (Henri Nouwen, Gracias!, p. 187)


When have you felt particularly moved by someone’s gratitude?  What made the situation particularly moving?


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2 thoughts on “Is Your Gratitude Obvious to Others?

  1. May 1st of 2005 I retired from the FAA after a 34 year career in aviation, first as a pilot in the Army, then as an air traffic controller. I finished the last 15 years as a supervisor.

    A year later, I found myself in Kabul, Afghanistan, working as a contract controller for the country. The group I was with had about 70 employees: controllers, technicians and support personnel. They had organized friends back home to send them toys, books, school supplies and clothing to aid the Allahoddin Orphanage in Kabul. I’d been in country less than 2 months when the man in charge of those efforts returned home to the U.S. As he was leaving, he turned to me and said, “You’re in charge now. Do a good job.”

    I was dumbfounded! He hadn’t asked if I was willing. He just made the pronouncement. As I walked down the road, I cried out to God: “Lord, I can’t do this! If they had wanted someone to supervise, well, okay, I could do that. But this job requires administrative skills. I don’t have any of those…”

    In that moment, I sensed God placing his arm gently over my shoulder. He seemed to chuckle just a bit–like a parent does when their child says something silly or naive. Then he said, “That’s okay. I’ve got the skills.”

    Well shut my mouth! Suddenly, I no longer felt overwhelmed. I decided that I’d just sit back and watch God work. And work, he did!

    Over the next 10 months we received much more clothing that the orphanage could use, so we gave the extra to refugee camps. So much money came our way that we were able to update and repair the facility’s plumbing, heating and electrical systems. We bought every child a new pair of shoes–500 kids! In total, more than $30,000 came our way to help them–far more than we’d ever had.

    The Afghan director and staff of the orphanage were so grateful, constantly thanking us. They always insisted that we sit and share tea with them whenever we delivered more goods. When I left to return home, they gave me a plaque, thanking me…

    …but I knew it hadn’t been my efforts. It had all been God’s doing. Seeing their gratitude from that perspective was a wonderful experience. I felt my own joy and gratitude that God had shown me something incredible. It brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, “poured out and overflowing…”

  2. Michael, what a wonderful story! I appreciate you sharing this deeply personal story of gratitude and God’s faithfulness. How encouraging!