Words of Hope: The Decision of Gratitude

Dad asked our family to be with him when he first received the news he might have cancer. We gathered around the kitchen table to wait with him when the hospital called with his results. He told us he wanted to be able to say thank you regardless of the answer. It seemed obvious saying thank you for not having cancer would be laughably easy. On the other hand, saying thank you for having cancer would be laughable but entirely different.

As we sat around the table, talking and drinking tea, the phone rang. Dad picked up the receiver and listened. He said thank you and sat back down. He told us the news was terminal cancer. Watching him learn to say thank you every day has been a lesson in courage. The John Hopkins oncology program gives cancer patients the task of writing twenty-five gratitudes each day. This one task has significant, measurable improvements for those who adopt it-including increased pain tolerance, longer life, improved peace and wellbeing, as well as stronger relationships. Dad was a testimony of intentionally choosing gratitude every day. Even with cancer, Dad found profound joy and peace during this extremely difficult journey.

In many ways, he beat the odds. His doctors’ pronouncement of possible death in two years has long been surpassed. Dad was in his twelfth-year battling terminal cancer.

Gratitude is the first gift and the most important for each day. Gratitude is the lens through which all of life comes into a healthy and courageous focus. Gratitude changes everything.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18