It was a bitterly cold Kansas morning. And our usually snug and warm home felt freezing because the heater had stopped working in the middle of the night.
We shivered in our coats and tried to stay active until the repair man arrived. He discovered our thermostat had gone bad, and then there was a wiring issue, so it was another four hours before the furnace was fixed. It was a long and cold day and I was so relieved that we finally had heat again after shivering under layers trying to stay warm all day!
Two weeks later, we were driving downtown on another frigidly cold day. We passed the local homeless shelter where many were gathered and huddled outside the doors waiting for 5 p.m. to arrive so they could go inside for a hot meal and a bed.
It struck me anew how much we take for granted. It felt like a fairly big inconvenience to not have our furnace working for a day. But we still had shelter, an oven to cook food, space heaters, electricity, and coats. We had money in the bank to pay a repair man to come fix the furnace. We had a car with a working heater we could have piled in had it gotten too cold. We had friends’ houses we could have gone to to hang out at if our furnace had been broken for longer than a day.
These people standing outside the shelter had nothing but the well-worn clothes on their backs and the possessions in their tattered grocery sacks. They had no home to go to, no car to drive, no refrigerator full of food, no closet full of coats, probably little or no money, and likely no steady source of income.
All of a sudden, the inconvenience of one day without a working furnace seemed so minor and inconsequential. I’d wager that every person standing in line at the homeless shelter would have excitedly jumped at the opportunity to have a non-working furnace be their biggest problem for the day.
No matter what struggles and difficulties you are, remember that compared to many other people in the world, you have many things to be thankful for!