Helen Keller is a great example of a person who conquered physical handicaps. Before she was two years old, Helen suffered a brain fever causing lost sight and hearing. Because of this she was unable to speak. Helen was shut off from the world. For the next five years she was a wild, unruly, kicking and scratching little girl.
Then her father sought help at Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston. Shortly before her seventh birthday, a teacher named Anne Sullivan arrived to help. Mrs. Sullivan made contact with Helen through the sense of touch. In time Helen learned to read and write. At ten she learned to speak. Ms. Keller graduated from Radcliffe College with honors.
Throughout a long life, Helen Keller became a symbol of courage to millions of blind people. She once wrote, “I have always thought it would be a blessing if each person could be blind and deaf for a few days during his early adult life. Darkness would make him appreciate sight; silence would teach him joys of sound.”
I don’t think Helen meant any malice when she penned these words. Helen Keller saw a disease more dreaded than blindness. She could see the sickness of ingratitude; a spiritual illness that poisons the human spirit. Ingratitude is the inability to give thanks; an unwillingness to appreciate life’s blessings. Those with the disease complain a lot and more is never enough. Acts of kindness, like receiving a birthday card, getting a compliment is lost. The ungrateful are blind and deaf to the manifold gifts God brings each day.
A long time ago, a man suffered great loss. First his property was destroyed or stolen. Then all his children were killed. In time, his health broke. Job suffered like no human being. But in the midst of pain Job thanked God. Listen to his gratitude. “But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields, So that He sets on high those who are lowly, And those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (Job 5:8-11 NAU)
Attitude of gratitude sees the hand of God in the familiar and routine and gives thanks. In 1789 George Washington issued the first thanksgiving proclamation. “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge and be grateful for His beneficences.”
Abraham Lincoln, almost one hundred years later said in his thanksgiving proclamation, “We have been the recipients of the choices bounties of heaven…God should be solemnly and reverently and gratefully acknowledged by all Americans.”