Have you ever received an unexpected "thank you" from a person you helped a long time ago?
They had thanked you for your assistance at the time, and you'd moved on, but they felt moved many years later to send you another message of thanks.
On 26 February there was a full page advert in the Financial Times placed by the Kuwaiti embassy in London.
Thank you, United Kingdom. On the 25th anniversary of the liberation of our country, we the people of Kuwait would like to thank the United Kingdom for its support and courage.
This message of thanks was for the part that the UK played in liberating Kuwait from Iraq in 1991. Although most people in the UK do not have that date in their memories, the significance of the event was so strong for the Kuwaitis that they felt it necessary to send a message to the UK, expressing their gratitude.
The advert in the newspaper prompted me to consider two things:
1. Whom should I send a message of thanks to for their contribution to my life?
I remember getting assistance from my church leader (who was also a teacher) when I was an A-level student. I had chosen my three A-level subjects, and a few weeks into the term he asked me what they were.
When I told him, he advised me to consider making some changes to them, to be better aligned with what I wanted to study at university.
I heeded the advice.
In retrospect, that advice was critical in helping me to get on the course that I did at university, and the career that I went into in the years afterwards. Although I was grateful for his assistance at the time, I think I owe him another message of thanks.
2. What am I doing now for which someone may send me an unexpected message of thanks in the future?
If I'm to get any unexpected messages of thanks in the future, I have to be prepared to take an interest in the welfare of others now, and be prepared to voluntarily give/share my resources to help people, with no guarantee of a return.
This is not something that most people will do easily - we already have so much in our lives to be concerned about, and it can feel like our resources barely meet our existing desires.
If we're waiting for everything in our lives to be in place and every desire met, we will never have the capacity to contribute to the lives of others.
I therefore rephrased this question to:
What am I doing now, in spite of my current situation, for which someone may send me an unexpected message of thanks in the future?
If you are honest with yourself, what would be your answer to this question?
Just as the UK government (and other governments) were concerned enough to give up scarce and valuable national resources to help secure the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, so also God gave up his only Son, Jesus, to come to the world and secure the liberation of mankind.
This generous act by God has paid off handsomely, because over 2,000 years later, millions of people all over the world remember the goodness of God every day, and express their thanks to Him in prayer and songs. Some do it as a group, in churches and other gatherings, while others do it as individuals or as families.
Has God been good to you?
Have you been blessed by someone in your past? Why not tell God how grateful you are, and send that special person an unexpected note of thanks.
You may also want to find an opportunity to be a blessing to someone. Who knows, you may get an unexpected message of thanks in the years to come.
And perhaps you might honestly say that you know more about Kuwait than you do about God's act of love 2,000 years ago. If that's you, I'd love to invite you to hear more about it over a meal, and ask your questions. Please email email@example.com to find our more.