SURPRISED BY GRATITUDE

By Sean Byrne


A local agricultural contractor who is also a very good family and community man had a very serious accident with machinery about ten days ago. The accident concerned was very serious for this man as they meant he would be out of action for up to two months in his busiest season of the year. Surgery was needed on his knee in order to kickstart his recovery and the same operation was postponed 3 times due to the hospital pressure. He had fasted for up to 12 hours on one of the occasions.

As a gesture of good will I rang him Friday and I was awe struck after our conversation. He was overflowing with gratitude that he had his operation on the fourth attempt. He was thankful that the injury although serious was not life changing or life threatening. He expressed thanks that his son who is only 20 was steeping up to the plate to keep the business going. He was extremely grateful that he had good staff who were loyal to him at this time of crisis. His neighbours were also mentioned for their kindness. He also gave thanks to God for the beautiful weather and the love and support of his family.

When we concluded our conversation I was speechless at the positivity that exuded from this man. There was no trace of been a victim and I got far more from the conversation than he did. With this Pentecost season I felt the Holy Spirit was talking to me through this man as he showed the courage, resilience and wisdom I was witnessing.

Edith Eger was a survivor of the holocaust. As a young 16-year-old Jewish girl she was carted off to Auschwitz from her native Hungary in 1944 with her parents and two sisters. Her parents were killed in the gas chambers shortly after her arrival. She only survived because she could give very good ballet dancing performances to Josef Mengele the Nazi officer in charge. Herself and her sister survived almost 18 months of semi starvation before liberation came from the Russian forces.

Eger subsequently emigrated to USA, got married and had 3 kids. She developed a highly successful career as psychologist and still works today even though she is in her nineties. In her 2 books “The GIFT” and “THE CHOICE”, she explains how she refused to let bitterness, anger and hatred overcome her in the concentration camp. The evil deeds of the Nazi regime even though they might damage her physical health were not going to compromise her mental health. She vowed that the determination to stay alive, and the endurance to keep her dignity would overcome and defeat all the evil forces that would come her way. This suffering gave her breath-taking resilience and perseverance which stood to benefit not just her but the thousands of people she helped throughout her work as a writer and therapist.

In this spirit of Pentecost may we all realise that the wonderful gift of wisdom to realise what gratitude can do for us, and that sometimes the darkest hour can be just before the dawn.