Don’t Complain; Count Your Mercies & Be Thankful

I worked for the grocery store Kroger just before I became a pastor. One particular day, I did not want to go to work. Instead, I wanted to have a bad attitude for the day ahead.

Photo Source: Herald-Review

Instead, like David Lane who served under the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, I took someone’s advice and found I had a lot to be thankful for! Here’s what Lane was grateful for:

A dear old lady acquaintance of mine used to say, ‘Whenever you are downhearted and disposed to complain, just sit right down and count your mercies.’ I have been counting my mercies today, and find I have many things to be thankful for. Instead of being half starved, I have now plenty of food… I am now well dressed… I have a good bed, with two white sheets… I am clean, for I wash and change clothing often… Last, but not least, I am in good health, because God has bestowed upon me this priceless boon [friend]. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

While I’m not against taking advice from old ladies with whom I’m not well acquainted with, the person I took advice from the day I didn’t want to go to work (who I consider to be the greatest “priceless boon” anyone can have!) was Jesus Christ.

Background: I was driving to work in Kentucky snow and ice, looking through the small part of the windshield that was defrosted (so I didn’t get in a wreck or make it to work late), and dreading having to go to work, unloading and stocking 3 times the amount of product we normally did. We were also shorthanded; a co-worker called in just that morning. (There was so much more here that gave me reason to complain, but that’s not the point!)

Somehow, I sensed I needed to pray about my work day. So, I told Jesus all about my frustrations about having to go to work that day. Then, he simply asked me “What are you thankful for?” Ok, Lord. Great… I was wanting to complain… But here goes.

“I’m thankful for this car, which is working now and getting me to work. I’m thankful for being alive and able to walk and the like. I’m thankful for my family; for a sweet wife and lovely daughter. I’m thankful for a warm apartment and for you providing us with it. I’m thankful for my job (insert abrupt pause in prayer and hand over mouth)”

That day, I realized that the very thing I was wanting to complain about (work) was something I was really grateful for. I was able to go to work, recognizing all of the gifts God had given me that day, especially life.

I wonder if anyone who bemoaned life in the American Civil War ever came to the realization that they were actually thankful just to be alive. What are you thankful for in your life?

Until next time, Count your Mercies…

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Even Male Nurses Need a Place to Sleep

Male nurses are an interesting subject to discuss, especially these days. However, I want to point out a story of one particular male nurse in the American Civil War who deserved to lay his head somewhere.

Interior of a ward of Washington D.C.’s Harewood General Hospital in 1864.

Union officer David Lane served as a nurse for a time in the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. He provided care for up to 30 men in his ward, along with the help of 5 other nurses as he writes in his diary entry on January 5, 1864. That was not the problem though, since only two of the recovering party could not take care of themselves. The issue laid (no pun intended, well maybe…) with the sleeping arrangements (or lack there of) for the nurses.

There was literally no place for these nurses to sleep, unless you count the floor that they laid on amidst their sick. They would even go to another part of the hospital, like that of a holding area for men about to be sent back to duty, in order to warm themselves by the mean fires kept there. Such was the case of Mr. Lane, until a new surgeon relieved their ward.

Side Note Question: Can you imagine constantly hanging around your place of bidness, because you have no where else to go to stay warm or sleep!?!

One morning the surgeon, a new arrival and a stranger to me, noticed me standing by the fire, and thought from my appearance I was fit for duty.

“To what regiment do you belong?” “The Seventeenth Michigan, sir.”

“How long have you been here?” “About six weeks.”

“What are you doing?” “Nursing.” “Where?” “In the first ward.”

“What business have you here, then?” “No business, only to warm myself. It is rather cold standing in the street today, when off duty.”

“What, have the nurses no place to stay?” “No, sir; they are as poor as was the Son of Man; they have no place to lay their heads.”

This surgeon was Dr. Cogswell, of the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, who had lately relieved Dr. Fox. In a few minutes I was notified this pleasant room was at our disposal. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

I am simply amazed by Mr. Lane. Not only was he completely honest about his situation, but I get the sense that he was humble in his attitude toward his circumstances. I don’t know if I could say that I’d not have a sense of entitlement were I in such a predicament. Even those who serve need to be served themselves! Yet, Lane was humble.

Furthermore, David Lane served others as Jesus Christ, living out his faith so much so that he identified his service and position in life with that of his Savior. May this story be to me and you a testimony of the Son of Man alive in us, as we come also to serve and not be served in our place of work, vocation, or otherwise.

Until next time, Serve & Sleep well…