While standing outside recently, as the sunshine beamed down upon me, I could not help but to think how often I have taken the essential light of the sun for granted. Without the sunlight, there would be no life upon the earth. Today, I want to consider how many things in our lives, which we often take for granted that are necessary to our existence and well-being. To take for granted (as I am using it in my column today) is to fail to appreciate sufficiently. Perhaps the most common things that most fail to appreciate are the things that the Creator gives us through nature.
Sunshine, Air, and Water
Since I have already briefly alluded to the absolute necessity of sunshine to all life upon the earth, I do not have to spend much time sharing with you how vital this essential element that we often take for granted is to all of us. Then there is the necessity of air that we all breathe, without which we would certainly die in a matter of minutes, if we did not have it. There must also be the consideration of clean air that is a factor in the quality of our health and lives, due to air pollution from over usage of fossil fuel and other pollutants. Clean and fresh water is also an essential that we too often take for granted. I lead a missionary effort that is striving to help others in third world countries where there is a shortage of fresh water to dig life-sustaining wells that are greatly enhancing the quality of their lives. Associating and aiding these very impoverished people have made me more thankful of the clean and fresh water that I once took for granted.
Food, Lodging, & Utilities
After the natural essentials that we briefly considered, perhaps the next category of necessary things we commonly take for granted are food, lodging, and utilities (like electricity, natural gas, and etc.). Because we live in a land of abundance, there is a common assumption that food will always be in the places where we buy our grocery. From the onset of the pandemic (when some of the producers of chicken and pork were challenged by outbreaks of the pandemic at the plants where they were processed), there was a scare and rush by many consumers to store up on these items that we often take for granted.
Lodging and having a place to stay is another thing we often take for granted. Perhaps because in our area, we have only a few people who are homeless, we take having a roof over our heads for granted. Not seeing and interacting with homeless people routinely can foster ingratitude for the blessing of having your own place to stay with utilities. The recent crisis in Texas concerning the loss of electricity and drinking water, due to a failure in their power grid, should be a wake-up call to all of us to not take these things for granted.
Invariably, one of the most common areas where we take things for granted is when it comes to our loved ones. Having recently lost a brother and a few other people who were near and dear to me, set me to thinking about how precious these people were to me. Also, did I take them for granted when they were alive? Did I give them their flowers while they could see and smell them? How often have I endeavored to comfort and console grief-stricken people who were battling the loss of a loved one coupled with the guilt of not honoring and valuing them while they lived. All the flowers, verbal compliments, and other posthumous accolades and praises are no good to them when they are dead. We must stop taking our loved ones for granted. One day you may wake up to your failure to appreciate them and it just might be too late.
Employment and Income
Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic that has had such a detrimental effect on our economy has caused many to appreciate the fact that they have a job or source of income. As important as employment and income are to our livelihood and general well-being, I believe that I am correct to say that there are too many people who have jobs and income who take them for granted. With all of the people who are unemployed, it would behoove everyone with a steady job and income to be thankful and not take either for granted.
The Grace of God
I am not a gambler or a betting man, but if I was, I would wage that the number one thing that we finite and fickle human beings take for granted is the grace of God. Exactly, what is meant by the grace of God? From a Biblical and theological perspective, the grace of God is His unearned and unmerited favor. Furthermore, it is embodied, expressed, and revealed through Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son. How often have we (whether we are believers or unbelievers) failed to express our gratitude to God for what He has given to us in both the natural and spiritual realms. Whether it is the sun rising or the rain falling on both the just and unjust (see Matthew 5:45), truly all good and all perfect gifts have come down from Him without exception. So, let us stop taking His grace for granted, whether we are saved or unsaved. Though He is the God of all, grace and mercy, let us not disrespect and provoke Him to anger and wrath with our ingratitude and rebellion of His word, will, and ways.