When the ancient Israelites were wandering around in the desert for, oh, about forty years, they began to complain and say that they missed the good food they’d had back in Egypt. They conveniently forgot they’d been slaves and how great it had been building pyramids every day one brick at a time. God had already provided for the whiners with something called “manna”. I always picture it as confession wafers falling from the sky. “Manna”, literally translated, means, “what is it?”. God gave them manna every day. Can you imagine being hungry, calling out to God, and then having food rain down from the heavens? Still, they complained and said “It’s not enough.” So God gave them quail. Lots and lots of quail. Still, between mouthfuls of quail burgers, I wonder if they muttered “What, no chicken?”. The Israelites were never satisfied with the blessings and the deliverance of God. It makes me cringe to realize that we really aren’t that different from them at all.
Over and over, we ask God to bless us. We ask for good health, for financial prosperity, safety, good grades, Channing Tatum look-alike husbands, and good parking spots. I would say that most days it’s easy to overlook the blessings that have already been poured out in abundance over our lives. We take for granted not having chronic pain, constant hunger, or an over-arching fear for our lives. We bad-mouth our bosses and feel justified in cutting corners because they don’t pay us enough or it’s “not in our job description”. We feel like God has slighted us when we can’t afford to go out to eat 3 times a week and have to cook at home like some peasant in a third-world country. We compare ourselves to other women and put them down because we are jealous of their blessings. We grow dissatisfied with our houses and buy lots of stuff to try to make it more shabby-chic, and then realize what really would have made the room pop was clean, modern lines.So obviously we have to buy more stuff. It never ends.
Smack dab in the middle of our physical abundance (you know, food water, shelter, 38 channels), our spiritual deficit shines through. Our ungratefulness is evident and our heart’s cry is “not good enough, God!”.
The only way to break outside of this attitude is by intentionally practicing thankfulness. By choosing joy.
“Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The evidence of a grateful heart is joy. It’s found in some pretty unlikely places. Don’t you just love to be around joyful people? Isn’t it true that some of the sweetest, most positive people you’ve met have been through some undeniably awful things in their lives? Joyful people aren’t immune or oblivious to pain, but they know that God is good even when times are hard. I want to walk in that truth. I want to draw people to Christ through my joyful spirit.
Choosing to be thankful will be a battle and a process. I’m just a little bit..entitled. I don’t like hard. I’m guessing most of us are this way. The thing is, the hard times are coming whether we like it or not. Responding with faith in God’s goodness even in the midst of trial is a sweet offering of worship, and also sets us up to be able to look at things more objectionable, trusting that God’s in control and right there with us in the thick of it.
Even when God’s provision prompts the question, “What is this?” we have reason to hope and give thanks. God is faithful. We can definitely start there.
Love you guys.