By Tope Popoola
In everything, give thanks…1 Thessalonians 5:18a
I thank all those who sent me messages of goodwill on my birthday last week. I actually spent the day speaking at the end-of-year thanksgiving and get-together of a corporate organization. Although it was work, it was also fun.
As the year draws to a close, most of us have a habit of taking stock of our progress in the course of the year. Unfortunately, in taking stock, many of us also get stuck in the paralysis of analysis. It is common to spend more time ruminating on what we could not achieve rather than what we did. We maul our own psyches in a self-immolating census and analysis of what we lost rather than express gratitude for what we have left. This is the time of the year when worship centres are filled with different types of people whose major reason for coming is to pray for last minute miracles and a recovery of lost ground.
There is nothing wrong with that except for the fact that oftimes, in doing that, people routinely forget the very many things that they accomplished in the year and so, forget to be grateful to God and to all who made those things happen.
No matter how bad things may have been, if you are still alive and healthy, you have more things left than anything you might have thought you lost. Your gratitude for what is left is based on your having an understanding of the fact that the potential for your future breakthrough is not in what you lost but in what you have left.
Inability to hope is the signature tune of the dead. What this means is that as long as there is life, hope can be your pilot to restoration. The tragedy that I see playing out every day is that of people who walk around with a semblance of life but who in reality are walking corpses, not because of a physical affliction but because they have lost the capacity to hope. A clear vision of a preferred future and its uncharted possibilities is all you need to inspire hope. But hope alone is not enough. It must be empowered by FAITH. My other spelling for faith is W.O.R.K.
Thank God for where you are. Many people didn’t make it that far. Whatever you have achieved, some people have done more. Conversely, whatever you have lost, some people have lost more. You are neither the best nor the worst. You are just you, created with your unique destiny and attendant experiences. No matter how bad you think things are with you, just keep in mind that what you call your present circumstance of frustration is someone else’s highest level of aspiration. What you currently call lack is someone else’s dream of abundance. So, roll up your sleeves. Stand with your head lifted up and dare to dream again. Like Joseph, your accomplishments in the area of dreams may be the key to your desired breakthrough.
However you must, like Joseph, take responsibility to develop the corresponding capacity to interpret them. Every time you ask God for a miracle, you have just asked for RESPONSIBILITY. I do not know of any miracle in the Bible that did not require the input of man. If your prayer for a particular type of car is answered, you have to take up responsibility for its maintenance.
In taking stock therefore, spend more time being grateful. Think of the many dangers –seen and unseen – that God delivered you from. Think of the several attempts by the environment and your health to keep you incapacitated. Yet you are still here.
Only the living dream. On my own part, I have chosen to keep the bright side up. Did you have disappointments and a whole load of things you could not get done. You have company in yours truly. But I am full of gratitude to God even for the things I could not do.
You know why? Whatever God withholds from you was probably never meant for you for several reasons viz: time, capacity, experience, consequences, etc. At the appropriate time, God can be trusted to make all things beautiful!
I thank God for the gift of life and sound health that has made the writing of this column possible in the last three years uninterrupted! Tasking no doubt, considering the fact that one is not a full-time journalist. But His grace has made it possible I want to also thank all of you who have made the writing worth my while. Your encouraging comments and your loyal readership have made it fun for me every step of the way. And thanks to the Tribune for the platform…