An Insight into Faith

for the week of March 11, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

Mattie Stepanek is the author of Journey Through Heartsongs. It is a most impressive anthology of poems by a would-be peacemaker who has touched hundreds of thousands maybe millions by now with his writings. He has been on Good Morning America, Today, and Oprah. His literary star is still rising.

One of my favorite Stepanek verses is "On Being Thankful." Like most of his pieces, it is short a mere twenty-two lines but profound. Written as a prayer, it begins with his intention to thank God that evening for a beautiful sunrise, a wonderful rainbow, and a sunset that "sparkled orange across the water." Wonderful images. Worthy of gratitude, right? He continues . . .
I was going to thank You tonight
For all of these special gifts,
Except that none of them happened.
But do You know what?
I still love You, God,
And I have lots of other things
That I can thank you for tonight,
Even if You didn't give those
Very special gifts to me today.
It's okay, God,
Because I'll look for them all again,
When my tomorrow comes.
What a wise and strategic insight about life! Our human tendency appears to have us presenting God an agenda for selfish consumption and personal joy. Then, when those items fail to materialize, we whine and blame. We indict God for his injustice or lack of concern. In some cases, we turn away in angry unbelief.

But God is God, and we are not! Prayer is not a license to demand. Faith clings to him in dark times, finding "lots of other things" to give thanks for yet.

By the way, you should know this about Mattie Stepanek. He is twelve and dying of a rare form of muscular dystrophy. His struggle seems to have given him insights that some of us who are several times his age could envy and use.

So is there anything for which you can bring yourself to be thankful today?

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