Finding a Lost Diamond

by Kent Crockett

One afternoon my wife Cindy called me from the bank where she worked. "The diamond has fallen out of my wedding ring and I don't know where it is!" she sobbed.

My mind flashed back two decades, while as a poor seminary student surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheap buffets, I saved $750 to purchase the most beautiful diamond ring in the world for my future wife. Diamond appraisers wouldn't tell you that. Less than half a karat. Small carbon flaw. However, the true worth of a diamond isn't determined by karats and clarity, but by the love with which it is purchased.

The chances of finding it were slim to none. Cindy could have lost it in our house while getting ready for work, at the restaurant where she had gone for lunch, or somewhere in the bank.

"Lord," I prayed, "You know where Cindy lost her diamond. Please show me where it is." Immediately I felt prompted to go to the bank parking lot to begin my search. After driving into the lot, the first place I looked was inside our minivan.

Nothing there. When I turned around to scan the lot, I saw something glisten. Tiny rocks and small chunks of gravel covered the parking lot. As I drew closer to investigate, my heart leaped when I discovered Cindy's diamond lying in a crack in the pavement. I snatched up the diamond and ran into the bank lobby holding it high for everyone to see.

"Look—I found it!" I yelled. Cindy looked up from behind her teller window, burst into tears, and came running through the lobby into my arms. That evening we called our friends and relatives to tell them how our lost diamond had been found, and then went out to dinner to celebrate.

Our experience bore an uncanny resemblance to the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-9). The woman in the parable was so excited on finding her coin that she called all her friends and neighbors to share her joy. After finding the lost jewel, Cindy and I had unwittingly followed the same script.

I learned one of the great secrets of thankfulness through this adventure. The value of something isn't determined by how much it appreciates, but by how much it is appreciated.

Finding Reference Points

When we see the same blessings every day, we eventually stop noticing them. When we stop noticing, we quit appreciating. When we quit appreciating, we stop thanking. When we stop thanking, we start complaining. At this point, we will have forgotten the Lord our God, who provided all the things we enjoy (see 1 Tim. 6:17).

We won't forget the Lord if we learn to thank Him for all things. How can we cultivate a thankful attitude? By using reference points.

Reference points give us a mental price tag to help us see the value of our blessings. Here are five reference points that will help you appreciate your "lost diamond."

#1: Theoretically Trading Places

Over 90 percent of the world's population would be thrilled to change places with you right now, no questions asked. The starving people in India would love to trade places with you. They could sit at your dining room table filled with delicious food, and you could sit on the rat-infested streets of Calcutta. Or would you prefer to exchange living conditions with someone in Siberia? Or how about the poverty-stricken villages of Mexico?

Complaining about your car? Swap places with the millions of people around the world and you can ride a burrow to your next destination. Multitudes would love to have your clean water. Exchange your bottle of purified water for their water filled with parasites. Remember, God has His eye on the people in India, Siberia, and Mexico at the same time He is watching you.

God didn't bless you so that you will feel guilty for having good things. He just wants you to be grateful to Him and to help the less fortunate.

#2: Memories of Doing Without

I know a man who has always been thankful for his shoes. When he was a boy during the Depression, his parents couldn't afford to buy new shoes for him. "I've always been thankful for shoes because I've never forgotten wearing those shoes with holes in the soles," he said.

Stirring up your memory of a time when you lacked will create a reference point for thanking God for everything you have.

#3: Losing and Recovering Blessings

Sometimes we don't realize the value of our blessings until we lose them. My father had to undergo radiation treatments for throat cancer. The therapy damaged his taste buds so that he couldn't taste food. The doctors told him his taste might return after the treatments were finished, but no one could say for certain.

Weeks passed, then months. Every meal became a forced feeding to keep him alive. Then one evening he discovered that his taste had returned! What most people would call a bland dinner became the best meal he had ever eaten.

He now had a reference point and would never forget what it was like to eat tasteless food.

#4: Comparison with a Worse Situation

Clarence was a very poor man with a large family. It took every penny he had to take care of his six children. Three of the children had worn out their shoes and needed new ones, but the family also needed a washing machine. He had to make a choice which to buy, so he decided to look for a used washing machine. He saw an ad in the paper with an address of someone selling a used washing machine.

He went to the house and asked how much they wanted for their washing machine. The couple offered to sell it to him for a very low price. Clarence told him he appreciated it, because he had to choose between buying a washing machine or shoes for three of his children. Then he added, "I'll bet you've never had to worry about buying shoes."

When the woman teared up and left the room, Clarence apologized. Then the man explained: "We only have one child, a little girl, and she's never walked a step in her life. She's never been able to wear out a pair of shoes."

Clarence went home that day with a used washing machine and a new perspective. He asked God to forgive him for his envy, and thanked God for those three pairs of worn-out shoes—and his children's ability to wear them out (from Brian's Lines, March, 1990).

#5: Experiences that Haven't Happened to Us

Dale Carnegie once went through a prolonged period of depression. To pull out of his despair, he wrote a list of everything important to him. He then imagined what life would be like without his blessings. He listed a number of hypothetical tragedies:

My children are in jail.

My wife has left me.

I'm flat broke.

My health is ruined.

After completing his list, Carnegie drew a line through each misfortune that wasn't true—all of them. His reference points for thankfulness were all those bad experiences that never came to pass. His depression soon lifted (from Norman Vincent Peale, "Being Thankful Makes Everything Better," Foundation for Christian Living, 1961).

Thank God for the bad things that haven't happened to you.

By using your reference points, you'll find your lost diamond—the ability to appreciate everything God has given you!

Excerpt from I Once Was Blind But Now I Squint, Kent Crockett, AMG Publishers.

© 2004 Kent Crockett Used by permission.

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