This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. —Psalm 118:24
We have a friend who takes people on tours to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa. She heard our family was going through some tough times this year, and she had no idea how much she ministered to us with her story. She told us that she had recently climbed Kilimanjaro with twelve people. One of the men stood out from the rest. No matter what they were doing–eating, working, flying, resting, walking–joy spilled out from him. Finally, after a week of being together in close proximity, our friend asked this man the secret to his joy. He told her that four years prior he had been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. He fought the cancer and beat it, and now every morning his thought is waking up is a gift. He tries to live in the moment as much as he can.
After the climb, our friend came down with an extremely painful back. Her doctor said her choices were surgery or pain medication. She said she lost all of her energy and her hope as well. It affected every aspect of her life, including her relationship with her husband. The pain was all-encompassing. She decided not to have surgery and to refrain from medication while she did back exercises given to her by her physical therapist.
Then she remembered the inspiring man from her climb of Kilimanjaro. She decided that even in the worst of her painful days, she would see waking up as a gift. She worked on having an “attitude of gratitude.” Even on bad pain days, she thanked God for the smell of the sea, the taste of a chicken tostada, a rainbow that she had seen the day before. She thanked God for her family and their support. She thanked God that no matter how bad it got, she didn’t have to stay focused on the negative. Her back didn’t get better immediately. But over time the pain was gone. She says the greatest miracle was not living pain-free, but learning that waking up is a gift.
Almost every day before I (Jim) get out of bed, I recite Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; [I will] rejoice and be glad in it.” Joy is sometimes an act of the will. Problems may not change around you, but your attitude can change, and that makes all the difference. Today as you perhaps face family health problems, financial pressures, or the needy people near you, realize that waking up is a gift and that a great goal is to acknowledge the fact that God created this day to allow you to walk through it rejoicing and with Him by your side. This attitude does wonders for your marriage and your family. Today is a gift. Your spouse is a gift. Your family is a gift. All that you have is a gift from God. He is our sustainer and provider. He gives us the gift of life.