During the past couple of years, Kim and I have enjoyed watching episodes of the "Alone" and “Life Below Zero” documentary series. Our interest comes from living in Alaska for ten years, and also from our curiosity of how people cope when life gets really difficult. It is amazing to see the resiliency of the human spirit when faced with tough situations. Knowing how to survive is a common theme in these episodes and living in a survival mode brings clarity to what is important in life. Four things seem to stand out: water, food, shelter, and safety.
The average American doesn’t think about these things very much. Let’s be honest, we have access to plenty of good clean water. Food is in abundant supply --- the only time we really think about it is when our stomach starts to growl. Except for a very small percentage of the population, having a place to stay that is warm and dry is not an issue. And most of us feel relatively safe, at least from the dangers of weather and wild animals.
The continual quest for food through hunting, fishing, and gathering, is a major focus in these documentaries. Without exception, every person is thankful when they find food. Their gratefulness also increases as their need becomes more urgent. This is common for everyone – our thankfulness grows in direct relationship to the realization of our need. Who do you thank when your needs are met? For many, if not most of the participants in these episodes, thankfulness is expressed to the fish, the moose, or the rabbit or squirrel that they just harvested. They thank the animal for giving it's life so that they can live. But, is the animal really the source of the goodness shown to them?
Gratitude, or thankfulness, has two components. The first is the realization of goodness. We are thankful when we are provided with good things. The second component is the acknowledgment of the source of this goodness. Who do you thank when you are grateful? The Bible tells us that God is the ultimate source of goodness. John 1:5 says, "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." And Psalm 100:5 reads "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning".
The goodness of God is displayed all around us through His creation. Whether it is through the kindness shown by a friend, the joy felt while walking your dog around the lake, or viewing an awesome sunset at the end of a long hard day, we are experiencing the goodness of God. God is the source of all goodness. The next time you experience it, remember to respond with the heart of the psalmist, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever". Psalm 136:1
Image: sunset at the Grand Canyon - Yavapai Point