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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Secrets to a Thankful Heart: Pennies from Heaven (Part 2)

by Marilynn Chadwick What about you—have you ever seen a sign or wonder? If you start paying attention, you might be surprised like I was when I started to find all those pennies! I continued to save these little reminders—pennies from heaven—I called them. Over the next months, pennies continued to appear. One day, I shared my “penny story” with my friend Kenna. I told her how these crazy pennies kept showing up. Pretty soon, she began finding her own pennies. A few days later in my morning quiet time, I was reading in John’s Gospel about the man we know as “Doubting Thomas.” Jesus’ disciples suffered terribly after the death of their beloved savior. But miracle of miracles—he appeared to them—alive! All the disciples saw him. Except for Thomas, that is. Thomas had wandered away and missed the first showing when Jesus appeared to the others. I could imagine how his face fell as the disciples excitedly told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Sullen and discouraged, Thomas vowed, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were…I will not believe.” Still, Thomas continued to hang around the others, hoping Jesus had not forgotten him. I felt for Thomas. For I, too, sometimes struggled with doubt. Jesus appeared again eight days later. This time, he singled Thomas out. But instead of scolding him, Jesus spoke to Thomas’s deepest longing for proof that he was really alive. “Put your finger here,” he told Thomas. “See my hands,” he said. “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas gasped and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28 NIV). Something about those verses got me thinking. Could it be that God cares enough to encourage sincere doubters like Thomas, or even like me? If so, maybe all those pennies I’d been finding were truly God’s way of speaking to me. Lord, I prayed silently, I do believe you’re sending those pennies to strengthen my faith. But I need more. Then, as an afterthought, I added, Lord, you showed your nail-scarred hands to Thomas. I want to see your nail marks, too! I never told anyone about my prayer to see a nail mark. How could God answer such an impossible request? A few days later, I received a card in the mail from Kenna. “Dear Marilynn,” she wrote, “I found this penny in my dryer and I thought of you. Perhaps the Lord sent this penny as an encouragement to us both.” I caught my breath. Taped to her card was an ordinary penny. But as I looked closer, I saw something that stunned me. Right through the center of the penny was a nail hole! I sat transfixed. And suddenly I knew. God had sent me my own nail mark, just as I’d prayed. For a moment, as I touched that penny, I felt like Thomas touching the nail hole in Jesus’ hand. What could I say but “My Lord and My God!” Suddenly, it all became clear. My God is awesome and powerful enough to rule the universe. But he’s also personal and tender enough to send a nail-pierced penny to another “Doubting Thomas” like me, in need of encouragement. I want to close this week with five reasons why I believe that giving thanks matters:

  1. Giving thanks to God is a good way to counter-attack discontent. It’s easier to replace grumbling or complaining with thanksgiving than to simply try to “not gripe.”

  2. Gratitude feeds my faith. I discovered that thanksgiving can stand up under a fiery trial.

  3. Giving thanks also seemed to use less energy than praying for a specific end—a good thing when you’re in a hard place. Giving thanks is an effective way to roll my burdens into God’s hands, which, in turn, calms my anxious heart.

  4. Having a thankful heart makes me more aware of my surroundings and more in tune with God’s blessings. So I find myself more expectant—watching for him to show up.

  5. For some reason, giving thanks made me more sensitive to the needs of others—opening the door to holy conversations—a blessing in themselves.

I don’t have to understand all the reasons why giving thanks is a good thing in order to experience its benefits. Forming a habit of giving thanks changes my attitude and my actions. I discovered that giving thanks is a form of worship. It connects me to the Lord and places my focus on him. And when I focus on Jesus, it changes everything.

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