This story about the founder of Methodism in the early 1700's, John Wesley, has been told many times. We don't know if it is actually true or just the stuff of legend, but there is always a touch of truth behind every legend, and this teaches a powerful message. You can find one version in "The Life of John Wesley" by John Telford. I have heard it and found it in print often enough to believe it. The point is not whether it actually happened or not. The point is that you should ask with whom you identify the most--Wesley or the night porter?
John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and he was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic. One night, however, something happened that set in motion a change in Wesley's heart. While speaking with a night porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one thin coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn't even have a bed. Yet he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God. Wesley, being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man's misfortunes. You have only a thin coat and it is very cold. The porter replied, "I thank God He has given me a coat when others have none." Wesley looked at the meat, fruit, and drink laid out for his dinner and asked, "What do you have to eat?" The porter replied, "God gave me a crust of bread and I am thankful for it for others have none." Wesley remarked that if the porter was late getting back, he wouldn't be able to get to his blanket on the wooden floor of the porter's room and would have to sleep upon the stones outside. The porter looked down and said, "And I would thank God I had dry stones upon which to sleep." At this point Wesley asked with more than a touch of sarcasm, "And what else do you thank God for?" The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, "I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!" Deeply moved, Wesley gave the man his own warm cloak, invited him to sup with him and to sleep in his room that night. It was then that he recognized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness, and he, Wesley, had yet to learn it.