By Rev. Dr. Rick Bunker, Chaplain
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of
thanksgiving – Colossians 4:2
Have you heard about the guy who was grateful for having been bitten by a great white
shark? I know it sounds crazy and it definitely goes into the category of truth is stranger than
fiction, because fiction has to make sense. This does make sense to me as I followed to the end
of the story.
You see this guy after being bitten by this shark, was rescued, and rushed to the
hospital. At the hospital, he was rushed into surgery. During the surgery, it was discovered
that he had cancer on his kidney. While patching him up from the shark bite the surgeon also
removed all the cancer. So, the guy has gratitude that he was bitten by the shark and the
cancer was discovered and removed before it spread.
There are lots of true stories like this. Stories of tragedy that turned to stories of
triumph. This past Veterans Day I was reading about the tragedy of the USS Indianapolis. In
July 1945, Indianapolis completed a top-secret high-speed trip to deliver parts of Little Boy, the
first nuclear weapon ever used in combat, to the United States Army Air Force Base on the
island of Tinian, and subsequently departed for the Philippines on training duty. At 0015 on 30
July, the ship was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58, and sank in 12
minutes. Of 1,195 crewmen aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The
remaining 890 faced exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks while
stranded in the open ocean with few lifeboats and almost no food or water. The Navy only
learned of the sinking four days later, when survivors were spotted by the crew of a PV-1
Ventura on routine patrol. Only 316 survived. The sinking of Indianapolis resulted in the
greatest single loss of life at sea from a single ship in the history of the US Navy.
Those are the facts, but the rescuers, and the rescued express gratitude and repeatedly
use the word ‘miracle’, as they recount their stories of this tragedy. It is an amazing story of
horror and bravery. What allows these survivors to express gratitude in recounting this event?
They say it gave them a new perspective on life that was priceless and empowering for the rest
of their life. Who am I to argue?
They say it gave them a new perspective on life – a perspective of gratitude,
thanksgiving, and triumphs rising from tragedies. Thanksgiving and gratitude certainly will
make for an empowering perspective. It will allow us to meet the most trying and challenging
of circumstances (tragedies), and not say, “Woe is me.” An attitude of gratitude allows one to
say, think, and ask, “How are we going to get out of this?”
Getting out probably will never be easy, but it probably won’t even happen with a ‘woe
is me’ attitude. And, if we know that God is still on the Throne, we know that even if we die
trying, we die with dignity and Heaven awaits us. And, beloved, that is the greatest triumph of
all! That is the greatest cause, the basis for the thanksgiving that we have…….
God thank you for life – abundant and everlasting. Help us to have the attitude of
gratitude that will increase our altitude in all the realms of life – Amen!
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 118:1