We know a man here in Ethiopia. He is short. Like 4-foot-something, short. He is a pastor of a little church outside of town, and he is always happy.
When we first met him a few years ago I instantly found myself a bit annoyed, wondering how anyone could be that happy all the time. Every encounter, no matter if it was in person, or on the phone started out with several minutes of praising God for all of the “blessings” and “gifts” that he has given to us. I found myself mocking him in my heart, thinking that he was fake or insincere.
“Praise the Lord!” He would say emphatically as he rose up on his toes and embraced me with a big hug and kiss on the cheek.
“How can anyone be that happy?” I thought to myself.
Me, I am a practical guy. Or at least that is what I try to tell myself instead of using more accurate descriptions like “grumpy pants” or “crotchety”. But I am starting to realize that I have no excuse for being the grouch that I am, and that my friend here has something to teach me. A lesson that is years overdue.
This past week I had the pleasure of crossing paths with my short-happy pastor friend several times.
And finally it hit me. The truth about him and me that I have not been able to see for so long.
He is not faking it! He really feels that blessed, and he is truly thankful for all the gifts and blessings in his life. For him just being alive is blessing enough to thank God for. And to start every conversation out with praising God is because he cannot contain the thankfulness that he has in his heart.
Wow this is hitting me hard. Like someone has shown me the ton of bricks that I have been carrying around.
This man is the pastor of a church that is made out of tin, so much of the roof has rusted through that the entire building is covered in several layers of tarp just so they can stay dry. The people that go to his church are poor, and I don’t just mean a little poor either, these folks are-get your drinking water from a puddle-poor.
And their pastor, is happy.
He thanks God for the blessings that he has with every breath.
Today, and hopefully every day after today, I am going to start thanking God for the little things because of what this little man has taught me.