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Have you ever felt overwhelming gratitude? I'm talking about the kind that goes WAY beyond the "Thank you for this food" blessings we often say before meals. The kind that reaches deeper than expressing gratefulness for people or situations in our lives that we have a tendency to take for granted. I mean the kind of gratitude we feel when we've been in extreme circumstances and God clearly rescued us.

When we lived in Ecuador, Steve was often called on to help with a Quichua farmer's animal(s). His skill would help build relationships that could potentially lead to an opportunity to share the Gospel or have a Bible study. One day he and fellow missionary Fletcher Dickerson were WAY out in the rural mountains. And when I say mountains, I mean the Andes Mountains which tend to be vast and treacherously steep. A cow was in distress down at the bottom of one of those steep mountains. Steve and Fletcher slipped and slid down the mountain to work on the cow, but then came the challenge of getting back up that mountain. The Quichua people had lived their whole lives on those mountains, and they were adept at climbing them. To Steve and Fletcher, however, the climb to the top looked impossible. The farmer had two mules with him and insisted that Steve and Fletcher ride those mules back up. The mules steadily and surefootedly reached the summit. Steve was so grateful for that mule, he kissed it when he got off its back. Yes. He kissed that mule! Steve was way past casual gratitude. He knew that without that mule, he'd STILL be at the bottom of that ravine. God provided precisely what he needed at the time he needed it most.

When we were back in Ecuador a few weeks ago, I suffered a severe bout of food poisoning.. . . . . in a hotel room in Cuenca.. . . no ice could be consumed. Both of the primary symptoms of food poisoning hit me with a vengeance. I was sicker than I'd been in a very long time. I needed help desperately. Steve contacted the tour director in charge of our group. The tour director contacted a local doctor. That doctor came to our hotel room IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, gave me a shot for nausea, and prescribed other meds. I had never been so grateful for a shot in my life!!! Furthermore, a pharmacy delivered the meds to our hotel also IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. I was actually able to board the bus the next morning and continue on with our trip after being sure the night before that I would be clinging to the bed (and to the bathroom) for the foreseeable future. I was extremely grateful to everyone who got me through a very dire predicament. God saw me and provided specific help in the way of people who were willing to be inconvenienced for my sake.

God protected us through the rest of the trip by keeping us safe on the roads and by allowing us to consume food and water that was safe to eat and drink.

It is good and right and healthy spiritually for us as Christians to live in a state of gratefulness. God showers His blessings on us daily. Gratitude helps us to see God. It draws us to Him and deepens our faith. Then there are times when we experience a downpour of His providence and blessings. Those times lead us to EXTREME GRATITUDE. What has made you extremely grateful recently?

Psalm 126:1-3 -- "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."

2 Corinthians 4:15 -- "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."

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