A Story of True Thanks

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It was Private Smith's third thanksgiving away from home. The first, he spent in South Korea. His day began with latrine duty, and ended with a cold turkey sandwich and eight hours of guard duty. The twenty year old Smith's second Thanksgiving away from loved ones occurred in the tepid desert near Egypt. This time, the mess-hall was able to serve a hot three-course turkey dinner, but due to a sudden terrible sandstorm, all the food was sadly ruined, and soldiers were sent on their way with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pat on the back.

"This year it better be different!" Grumbled the young private as he sat on his cot cleaning his riffle...in Baghdad. He turned to a fellow soldier, his good buddy, Private Handale, and quietly said, "I miss those family Thanksgivings at home where mom would fix the finest spread north of the Mississippi! After dinner, dad would gather us around and read the story of the first Thanksgiving. Mom would then cuddle up close to him and read from the Bible; verses on thankfulness."

The brown-haired private took a deep breath, and said, "What do I have to be thankful for now? Nothing! "

Just then, an awful screeching sound, then earth-shattering explosion broke the somber silence.

Two weeks later...

An unfamiliar female voice quietly stated, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1) Private Smith heard the voice, but he couldn't see anyone in the room.

"Wait a minute!" He thought. "Where am I?"

"Doctor!" Shouted the female voice. "Come quick! He appears to be coming out his coma!"

"Coma?" Thought Private Smith. "Are they talking about me?"

Just then, the young Smith opened his eyes, and whispered to the young lady in white who was now peering down excitedly at him, "Was that a Bible verse?"

"Why yes!" The blonde-haired nurse replied.

Suddenly, there were bright lights shining in his eyes, and the feel of cold metal on his chest.

"Heart and lungs are good. Blood pressure normal," said the doctor matter-of-factly. He continued, "How do you feel, son? Do remember anything?"

Private Smith whispered his name, rank and serial number, while the doctor chuckled. Setting his stethoscope down, he then turned to the nurse and replied, "You've just witnessed a miracle, my dear. Take good care of him."

With that, he walked away to attend to his other many patients.

Private Smith again turned to the nurse, "Why did you say that Bible verse to me?"

She smiled and replied, "Because today is Thanksgiving, and after what you have been through, surely you would be thankful!"

The young private looked puzzled. "Been through?"

"Oh my, I thought you knew," the nurse kindly said as she grabbed the young man's hand. "You have been in a coma for two weeks. You were very seriously injured and we weren't sure you would make it. From what I understand, you saved your friend, Private Handale's life, by covering his body with yours. You are a hero, you know, and you'll receive a purple heart for your bravery and sacrifice."

"Sacrifice?" Asked Private Smith quietly.

"There's something more," replied the nurse, "You lost your leg in the explosion."

The young soldier reached down and felt the area where his right leg used to be, and then there were a few moments of silence...which broke in to odd snickering.

"Why are you laughing?" Asked the confused nurse.

Private Smith went on to explain, "For quite a while now I have found it very difficult to be thankful on Thanksgiving, and maybe even other days as well. I guess that is because I was trying to be glad for the wrong things; things I thought were important, but really aren't, at least not in the greater scheme of things. Yes, I lost my leg, but I gained something even more precious; my life! I am also so very thankful that my best friend, Private Handale, is alive for he has been such a help and blessing to me for these last three years. If the number of deaths from that attack was as great as you say, then how ungrateful it would be for me to complain about one silly missing leg, while other families are grieving their losses. No, I am not sad, but thankful, grateful and glad for what I have!"

Just then, the doctor walked in the room to hand deliver a telegram. "It's from your family. Nurse, please read this to him"

The blonde-haired nurse cleared her throat, and read the contents of the note:

"Dear son, we are overjoyed beyond words to hear of your miraculous recovery! We wish we could be there with you. This is the best Thanksgiving, for we are so very thankful to God for the simple gift of life! We love you so much, and we are anxious to see you soon! Praise God!"

With tears now streaming from his eyes, the young private Smith replied to his family as if they were standing there beside him. "And this is MY best thanksgiving too!"

Contributed by Melanie Schurr editor@melanieschurr.com (Copyright (c) 2004 Melanie Schurr) Melanie Schurr is author of "Ecstatic Living Ecstatic Loving: A Christian marriage manual & life-guide," and "Son Salutations."

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