I work as a technician at a hospital here in Dallas. This past week I went in for my shift and began making my rounds to introduce myself to my patients for that day. I was about half way through when I walked into the room of an older gentleman. I greeted him with a smile and my usual introduction, “Hi my name is Abby. I will be your tech until seven tonight.” He smiled up at me as I moved to write my name on his board.
As I did so, he clarified, “Your name is Abby?”
“Yes sir.” I responded.
“Do you know what Abby means?” He pressed the question towards me.
A little surprised that he would be interested enough to ask, I responded telling him that my name, Abby, means ‘Father’s joy’ and my middle name, Michelle, means ‘Gift of the Father.’
“Ah!” He closed his eyes and smiled as if he were relishing the sound of it, ‘Father’s joy.’ “Now let me give you a quiz.” Smiling, I waited, curious about what he would ask. “Who invented CPR?”
Knowing the answer he was looking for, I quickly said, “God did because he started Adam’s heart.”
“100! Now answer this question. What can we give back to God?”
I pondered this for a moment and ended up responding. “Our heart.”
I expected to be right and was surprised when he said, “Wrong!”
“What then?” I asked
Looking up towards heaven, he smiled even bigger and opened his hands towards his gaze. “Thanks.” He said. “All we can give back to God is our thanks. Thank Him for everything. All throughout the day I thank God for the little things and the big things and it keeps me praying every hour of everyday without ceasing. That is how you truly receive the gift of the Father’s joy”
I stood amazed at the insight of this man’s wisdom and the intimacy with which he shared it. He not only took the time to know me by the true meaning of my name, but he also taught me a way to live in the identity of my name. Simple, persistent, consistent gratitude brings about the gift of the Father’s joy.
I talked a little longer with him until my phone rang for an other patient. Before I left, I settled him in by getting him a bottle of water and handing it to him. He smiled and caught my hand for a brief moment and said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Joy. Joy. Joy.”
Life is hard but it isn’t complex. God placed the secret to joy in two simple words. This week I am thankful for the old man who reminded me of the importance of thanksgiving, even while he lay in a hospital bed with a painful and weakening illness.