Last week we finally got our washing machine back after more than three months. It had a defect, but was still under warranty. For just over a month we had no washing machine at all. We had to resort to quite a bit of hand washing and I occasionally went to the laundromat to get some clothes washed. As I normally went late in the evening, I had some interesting encounters at the laundromat. That included meeting the police several times, who questioned me about what I had noticed in the vicinity. When finally spare parts arrived from overseas they were installed, but it was immediately clear that the technician had not identified the problem correctly.
We were loaned a washing machine and after some further tests the relevant spare parts were ordered for our own machine. These arrived about a month later. But our trials were not yet over. The day before our washing machine was due back, the truck driver of the appliance company injured himself, so that it took a further three weeks until the washing machine finally arrived. Our loan machine had been a top loader. I know many people will never be convinced, but at least this top loading machine could not compare in any way to a front loader. To us at least the difference in washing quality was stark.
We’re happy that we finally have got our washing machine back. It got me thinking that so often we really only value something we take for granted once it is missing. That goes far beyond our appliances. When we give thanks for our food is that only a ritual or are we truly thankful for the food we can eat? What about our parks, libraries and community facilities? Would we miss beautiful houses? Do we appreciate quiet landscapes only when they are threatened? What about the groups we belong to? What about our church and the people we meet there? Do we fully appreciate our family? We may take our health for granted until we get sick.
Maybe we humans need to be deprived of something to know what it is to go without. After all, if everything falls into our lap we soon get arrogant and entitled. However, we should learn from those times when we miss something and count our blessings more broadly, to appreciate the many good things in our life. All of these point to the good giver of life and goodness, to God.
That’s why the Bible reminds us again and again to be thankful for all that we’ve been given. We can appreciate good gifts before they disappear. We can give God thanks and praise for all the goodness.