Published on 12/10/2022

Gratitude and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"
Winnis Chiang

Most of us are thankful for our health, our safety, our loved ones. But what else? What do we take for granted? What moves us? What would fill our hearts daily if we would just notice it?

1. The senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste—daily miracles each of them.

2. The plant world. From the productivity of a late-summer tomato plant to the delicate unfurling of a fern, nature’s richness and tenderness is something to behold.

3. Opportunity. Our steady companion, opportunity is always ready to take us down a path yet unknown. (Hint: We have to say “Yes!”)

4. Beauty. What do your eyes feast on? What splendor makes your heart rejoice? Beauty is all around us every day. How often do you stop to enjoy it?

5. The ability to learn. There is no age limit on learning—period. When we stop learning, we literally stop living.

6. Young children. They model for us innocence, faith, resilience, playfulness and unconditional love.

7. Music. What inspires you and lifts your mood? Classical, Rock & roll, African drumming, violin concertos, a hymn, a nightingale?

8. The ability to give. Every act of love benefits the giver as much as the receiver.

9. Color. Sunsets, paintings, green trees, blue sky, purple flowers. Imagine a world without color.

10. Change. It’s unavoidable; the only constant. Change can be unsettling or challenging. But the mystery of it and what lies beyond it can keep us young at heart.

I used to take many good things for granted. Instead of being grateful for opportunities and changes, I was annoyed because they took me out of my familiar comfort zone.

The reason I refused to go to church before I became a believer was because I didn't want to admit that there were problems in my life that I couldn't solve. After saying "No" for six years, I finally accepted an invitation from two friends in 1988. We had dinner at their house before going to their church's Christmas celebration. We sang songs. We listened to people sharing. But the only thing that touched my heart was a skit performance. The drama compared and contrasted the lives of two women, one with Jesus and one without. It got me thinking.

A few days later, on Sunday, January 1, 1989, I remembered the "new" church near our house that our friends mentioned. That was the first time I attended any Sunday worship. To avoid talking with people, I arrived late and departed early. Nevertheless, I went again the next Sunday, and the next. I heard about a upcoming "Double Healing" Evangelistic meeting that would be held on the last Saturday of January. Even though I had no idea what that was all about, I went because I yearned for healing.

The preacher at the meeting was a physician-turned-pastor. Like me, he came from Hong Kong to pursue the American dream. All of my proud accomplishments paled in comparison to his. To my surprise, he also experienced loneliness and emptiness at the peak of his career. He shared how he neglected family relationships in pursuit of his career and material successes. Being suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer was his wake up call. That's when he called out to Jesus Christ whom he had heard of as a child. Indeed “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

Long story short, God restored his marriage and he began writing many letters to his young children so that they could receive timely letters from their "Father Far Away" while growing up without him. Miraculously, his cancer cells disappeared suddenly. He received double healing!

After he finished his testimony, someone led us to sing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." My heart was pierced by the lyrics "Oh, what peace we often forfeit? Oh What needless pain we bear? All because we do not carry everything to God in prayers!" I couldn't stop sobbing. It turns out that I also needed the Savior Jesus!

I am thankful for the opportunity to say "Yes" to my friend's Christmas celebration invitation. I am grateful for the opportunity to say "Yes" to Jesus Christ on Saturday, January 28, 1989. Jesus Christ is my Lord, my God, my King, and my Good Shepherd. He is not only my Savior, but also my closest friend.

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13)

Author's content used under license, © Claire Communications

Merry Christmas!!!

Attention Please:
I retired in October and am now a retired California marriage and family therapist. Lord willing, I shall continue to write articles on relationship with God, self and others. You are still welcome to visit for additional resources.

Winnis Chiang

Winnis Chiang, founder of Parenting ABC and a retired LMFT, is passionate about helping Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and positively influence their American-born children.