Heathdale flower 23rd May 2024

Starting Daily with a Thankful Heart

Discover the transformative power of gratitude in the face of adversity, as Executive Principal Mr Grace's journey from pain to thanksgiving unveils a timeless lesson in counting our blessings.

Heathdale flower

Many years ago, I ruptured a disc in my lower back playing basketball. As a consequence of this injury, every time I took a step, all the way down my right side, from my shoulder to the tip of my toes, I would experience this sharp stabbing pain. Some days it was sheer agony to walk!

My physiotherapist suggested that one of the things I should do was to walk around the block of my neighbourhood three times a day. I can remember one day, knowing I had only walked around the block once, Sue, my wife, encouraged me to go for a walk and she would accompany me. This particular day, the pain was chronic, but I believed if I wanted to get better, I needed to exercise. Halfway round the block, I had to stop because the pain was so bad. I just wanted to curl up on the spot and sob!

Sue trying to distract me took me by the arm and said, “Each time we take a step, let’s tell God what we are thankful for!” I must admit this is the last thing I wanted to do but as we started to get into a rhythm of walking and giving thanks, before I realised, we were walking through our front door!

This moment taught me no matter our circumstance, there is always something to be thankful for.

The memory of this particular challenging time came flooding back to me when I happened to read the following Sunday School chorus by Johnson Oatman Jnr (1856 – 1922) which was sung many, many years ago:

“Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessing, see what God has done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”

I have heard it said that the hardest form of arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings! And why? Is it because they are so many that they’re impossible to count? I don’t think so.

Probably, it’s because one of our troubles is that we as human beings have a natural tendency to recall and count the bad things that happen to us rather than recall and count the good things. Sir John Marks Templeton (29 November 1912 – 8 July 2008) was an American-born British investor, banker, fund manager, and philanthropist and a follower of Jesus. He was reported to have said: 

“Every morning when I wake up, I lay quietly in my bed and think of five new ways in which I have been blessed by God. I would then lift my heart to God in praise and thanksgiving and claim that this simple spiritual exercise at the start of each new day is one of the reasons why I felt a flood of peace and contentment in my life! I was truly thankful to God!”

If I were to ask you, how your day begins, I’m sure that for most of us, we roll out of bed with a groan and sigh to leave a warm and comfy space to face the new day. I must admit that I don’t often feel content or thankful at this precise moment!

However, I have been trying to follow the example of Sir John Mark Templeton and start my day with trying to recall five new ways God has blessed me. I have figured it is better to lose count of my blessings than to lose my blessings by counting my troubles.

To embrace this posture of thankfulness is something we want to help our students to adopt. As we begin each day at school, through the Biblical devotion times, we are able to help the students to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of how God has blessed their lives, whether they are conscious of it or not!

Our prayer for our students is that they would ask God to assist them to make it a practice of thanking Him for His goodness. As they do this, they will come to realise that there are many mercies we can overlook. We want to help each student to see God has abundantly blessed each and every one of us!