Monday, June 25, 2012

Ya think He really means ALL circumstances?

I think I have some apologizing to do for my last me, to God, to anyone who happens to catch this blog in cyberspace.

As a Christian, I am called to live a life of thankfulness and joy no matter what the circumstances.

“Rejoice always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Always?  Really?  In ALL circumstances?

Even though I’m in an office with no windows and my husband has the day off?  What about the fact that the stuff I really want is really good stuff?  Like I want to spend more time with my kids and more time cleaning my house and serving my husband.  Right?  That’s good stuff!!  But instead, I’m here and I don’t wanna be!

Have you noticed that my writing has slipped into full-on, 5 year-old mode?  That’s probably because that’s what last week’s post amounted to…a tantrum thrown by an ungrateful child.  How many times have I tried to express to my children that when they pitch fits over what I have not given them, it makes me feel like they’re ungrateful for what I have?

I’m reminded of a hot summer day in a green field where my little family had an even hotter meltdown of our own.  I had spent the day trying to make it memorable.  Oddly, I don’t remember what it was that we did that day; I just recall that we spent the whole thing running from one activity to the next that I thought the kids would enjoy.  We finished it at the park, and when it was time to leave, little Em (probably about 7 at the time) pitched an ever-lovin’ fit.  “We never do anything fun!  Why do we have to leave!  I don’t want to go home!”

I don’t remember where we went earlier that day, but I do remember how insanely angry I was and the tirade that ensued (which wasn’t right either, but that’s an issue for another blog).  I think it’s remarkably ironic how much I remember trying to make that day memorable by running them from one location to another- but the only thing that stuck was her tantrum and then my own.  I remember the ungrateful.

I wonder if that’s how our Lord feels.  Does he look down on me and feel heart-broken, asking me why I’m choosing to see what I don’t have and not all the wonderful blessings He’s given me?

“They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord.”
Psalm 106:25

And guess what THAT kind of nonsense leads to?

“And do not grumble, as some of them did –
and were killed by the destroying angel.”
1 Corinthians 10:10

I’m sorry?  Did you say “destroying angel”?  You kind of caught my attention there, God.  Do I have to worry about being taken out by the destroying angel? 

Nope.  Those grumblers preceded my glorious Savior, who died a horrifying, gruesome death for me, so that I might bask in the glow of my God’s grace and infinite mercy.  Praise Jesus!

However, there’s still major danger that lies in the grumbling.  By immersing myself in ungratefulness, I am blinding myself to the many, many blessings in my life and stunting my spiritual growth.  This could lead to me missing out on the other wonderful things my God has planned for me.

Our wonderful youth pastor’s wife brought this verse to our attention yesterday in our women’s Sunday School class:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ephesians 4:29

With those very wise words in mind, let me leave you with a whole list of things I am very grateful for:

1.       My three beautiful, healthy, spunky, loving children
2.       My wonderful, doting husband who loves me and my children and provides for us all
3.       Our adorable house he bought for us that we are making into our home
4.       The ability to see my children’s smiles and hear their giggles
5.       The fact that I actively feel the Lord working in my heart and my life and I know He has great plans for me
6.       Family, new and old (and friends that might as well be family), that love me, accept me, and teach me every day
7.       The pain in my ankle and foot that has helped remind me how much I love to work out and how I’ve taken for granted the ability I had to do it with ease.
8.       The beautiful world our God has given us, complete with painted sunsets and refreshing rain.
9.       Each and every day I get to learn more about my Lord and how to better serve His kingdom
10.   My job. 

Despite the fact that I do not enjoy the work I’m doing, I am grateful for my job.  It gives us income we need for now.  I like the people I work with and that my schedule is moderately flexible.  I may not really like my job, but I am very grateful for it.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  Honestly, I feel like the dissatisfaction in my current line of work has two purposes.  I think God is using it as a lesson in gratitude, but I also think He will use it in his future plans for me as a juxtaposition.  Later, whenever it is that I’m doing whatever else he has planned for me, I will have hard days…days when I look back and think, “why did I ever leave there?!” and He will use these words and feelings to say “be grateful for what I’ve given you, my child.”  And then…then I’ll probably make a new list. 

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