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Copyright © Jules Dervaes

November 13, 1982

It’s not normal, not possible; it’s one of the hardest things to do–if not the hardest. I’ve wrestled with this and, usually, I lose. I can really be grateful to God, when things are going right, when I’m comfortable, and circumstances are going smoothly and easily. But, when it comes to being thankful for problems, trials, and adversities, the “thank yous” just get caught right here in my throat. But the Bible says “in everything give thanks.”

This is the story of Maurice Ruddick, a miner, whose example showed me the real meaning of being thankful in all circumstances:

It was Thursday. Maurice descended into the mine and then, suddenly, the world exploded. In the next instant he was 2 1/2 miles down a narrow passageway eighty feet long. Without conscious thought or audible sound he prayed:

“Thank You, dear Father, for this good day. Thank You for my wife, for my children. Thank You that they are digging, that they are looking for us.”

That was not so strange. He had given thanks before, when things looked bad to his short sight, for his children’s health and for God’s abundance.

The trapped miners began to search their would-be graves and turned up four sandwiches and seven water cans. A broken air pipe was protruding from the debris. They clawed at it with their bare hands. Useless, their only option now would be to wait it out.

“Thank You, God, for Yourself that we do not have to wait alone.”

It was now Friday. The thirst, the thick tongues, cracked lips and throats lined with dust were the hardest to endure.

“Thank You that they are coming.”

On Saturday, they became obsessed with time. His watch with its luminescent dial was the only contact with the world outside of mornings and evenings. And no matter how they hoarded the helmet lamp, one by one, they dimmed and faded out. Deep dark earth is deeper than black. Again, another silent prayer is offered.

“Thank You for the daylight.”

On Sunday the last water can was used up, but it only could wet the lips. No drink today. On Monday the last bit of sandwich was cut into seven bites the size of a sugar cube.

“Thank You for the food.”

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday–a whole week had passed. All day they gnawed on the timber. The watch face was very pale now. Friday came and they were so weak. Who would ever think that they were alive after eight days?

Saturday: The watch and Maurice were going out together.

“Thank you for the light.”

Suddenly, there were signals on the air pipe. They were coming! The miners began screaming and reaching for someone to hug. Someone whispered to Maurice, “We ought to give thanks. You’re a praying man. You say thanks for us all.”

Maurice said softly, “Fellows, I’ve never stopped giving thanks.”

Incredible! Under a nine day strain, slowly waiting each dismal day to die, death staring him in the face, daring not to back down and become bitter, not crying out in misery or collapsing into despair, his thankful spirit did not break. It did not cease.

There is a habit that we should develop and begin to build: the habit of giving thanks, even when we don’t see anything to be thankful for, even when we don’t see, hear, feel, or sense it. Yes, even when the circumstances are gloomy and becoming blacker by the day. Yes, even when we think we have nothing to speak of, to be thankful for, we should still speak nothing but thanks.

Here is THE SECRET that will change your life. First and foremost, thank God with your will. The will is the engine–train it–the emotions will follow. Say “I will thank You for all things.” And do it! Begin now! Don’t wait until you are rescued.

As we face life with continual, unceasing thank yous, even when we think we have nothing to speak of, what a beautiful testimony to say, one day, as Maurice did: “I have never stopped giving thanks.”

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