Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

Thanks in Advance

A Character story about gratefulness.

Frederick lived in a small village in Europe. Though he was not very good in school, everyone there enjoyed his joyful smile and the encouragement of his words. When he went to the store for his mother, he always took a list with him. He would place the list on the counter for the storekeeper to see and then say, "My mother would like these things, and thanks in advance." At the park he would say to a friend, "I would like to use the swing after you, and thanks in advance."

One day Mrs. Willheim asked him, "Frederick, why is it that you always say to people, 'thanks in advance'? Who knows, they may give you something for which you would not be thankful at all."
"Oh, Mrs. Willheim," Frederick answered, "I am simply obeying the Bible. It says, 'In everything give thanks.' If everything I get is from God, how could I not be thankful?"
Not long after this, news of the Second World War spread throughout the town. The people thought at first that their little village would be left alone. But then they learned that enemy armies were moving their way, and that as they conquered a city, many were killed and captured. Soon their village would face the ravages of war also.
"Now what is there to be thankful for?" Mrs. Willheim sneered as Frederick passed her house one day. "We barely have time to escape before we are killed by the soldiers."
"I can't see anything to be thankful for," Frederick admitted. "But I am thanking the Lord anyway. He did not say to thank him when we understand, but to thank him in everything."
"Humph," snorted Mrs. Willheim, as she laid another box of belongings on her porch.
Just then a motorcycle raced up the street. "The enemy army is close at hand. There is no time to escape now. We must run for cover. Come to the church basement to hide!"
Everyone ran, drove, or biked for the church, and packed into the basement, expecting the worst. In spite of the large crowd, and the limited space, a hush fell over the people. A few minutes later a man closed the door behind him and announced, "the army has surrounded the city. They will no doubt move in any time."
"Don't panic," the pastor pleaded as people huddled closer, sobs and screams punctuating the silence. "God has not forsaken us."
"What can He do now?" yelled one.
"Yeah, what?" asked another. "Even God can't save us now."
Just then Frederick got an idea. He arose and walked quickly to the pastor. "Sir," he said, "I know one thing we can do."
"What's that?" humored the pastor.
"We can thank God in advance. He said that we are supposed to thank Him for everything, and this must be one of those 'everything' times."
"All right," the pastor agreed. "We'll do it. After all, it can't hurt anything." So the pastor arose and told the people that he was going to pray. The sobs quieted. "Lord," he began, "we don't know why you have brought us to this time, but we do know that you are in charge. You said, Lord, that you would give your angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways. Lord, we have no strength, but we believe you are able to deliver us from the hand of the enemy. We humbly ask you to do just that, and, Lord, thanks in advance."

Those last words brought to the minds of many the cheery smile of Frederick. The sobs stopped and many people actually believed that God would perform a miracle for them. Someone began to sing a hymn of praise, and others joined in. They didn't care that the sound would tell of their location to the enemy.
The pastor too was encouraged. "If we really believe that God will help us," he said to the people, "let us ring the church bell as the sound of God's victory." The bell ringer quickly ascended the stairs and soon the tolling of the church bell filled the air.

The ringing continued, and so did the singing. After some time, the people began to wonder what had happened outside. Why had the enemy not come? A few sneaked out the door and peered up at the hills where the enemy was last seen. Not a soldier was in sight!

Later the village learned that they enemy indeed planned to attack the village. At the very moment they were about to descend and destroy, the church bell sounded. The general in charge thought this signal meant that the village was already in their control, and thus they simply moved on to another. The entire village was saved because one boy had taught them how to tell God, "Thanks in advance."