Editorial - Gratitude

Decades ago in my hometown, my family and I lived in a small neighborhood where houses had adjoining walls. When there was a fight between families, the entire community knew; when someone bought a new home appliance, the entire community was aware of it; when there was a dispute between a husband and his wife, everyone knew. Everybody knew about everyone and everything. That’s how we lived in that small community.

It was so unfortunate that our next-door neighbor was an unfriendly family man, very arrogant and aloof. Perhaps it was because they were the most affluent family in the community. Moreover, the husband was a high-ranking military officer, which may have influenced their awful behavior, as well. Being the next-door neighbors, we had a tough time dealing with the challenges they created for us. They treated us as if we were their enemies. One time the husband banged on our front door in the middle of the night, waking us up for no reason. However, despite these unpleasant circumstances, for some reason they liked our 3-year-old daughter, Laura. Whenever they saw her playing outside our house, they would call her to their house.

As human beings, we have the tendency to respond to such treatment with animosity. Our propensity is to return the hatred people exhibit toward us and hate them even more—to the moon and back, as some would say. But in the midst of our bitterness and desire to get revenge, I heard Jesus’ voice whisper to my heart, “ ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’ (Luke 6:27, 28). I responded with an excuse: “But Jesus, it is hard to do what You are asking me to do. It is not easy to bless them and pray for them while they treat us so badly. It is somewhat impossible to love my enemy!” Then I heard Jesus whisper again, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Eventually, I came to agree with Jesus’ principle on “how” and “whom” to love, and I decided to comply with His command.

One Sabbath morning—which coincided with the “Eid-al-Fitr,” a national holiday that our neighbors celebrated—we got dressed and ready for church. Before we left, the three of us went up to our neighbors’ front door and knocked. We waited for a few moments with anxiety. Finally, the door opened and there stood the wife with an unfriendly look on her face. When she saw that Laura was also standing with us, however, the wife’s unfriendly look changed to a beautiful smile. Immediately, she shouted out to her husband, “Daddy, Daddy, guess who came? Laura and her parents are here.” That morning we left their house feeling peace and joy after shaking their hands and saying, “Happy Eid-al-Fitr, and please forgive us if we have done you any wrong.” When we got back from church that afternoon, we received a full tray of delicacies and delicious foods from our neighbors. From then on, they have been so friendly and one of the best neighbors we have ever had. Indeed, Jesus’ principle of love and obedience worked very well.

My family and I were so grateful to God for helping us find a pleasant solution to our problems (see 1 Cor. 15:57). We are equally grateful to God for sending His Son to die on the cross to save all of His creation, including those who pierced Him. As we begin this new year, may we find ways to show gratitude, even in our darkest moments.

Hiskia Missah

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