Storms are raging in the soggy Minneapolis area. Lightening, thunder, wind and rain have filled my days and nights with a pounding usually attributed only to heavy metal music. We’ve had so much rain that birds are finding it hard to fly, the weight of water sodden upon their wings. Frogs refuse to croak for fear of drowning and the only things happy about this muggy, rainforest marsh are the extra-large, doubly poisonous mosquitoes that have bred like rabbits on Viagra.
Yes, I know some folks are crying about a drought. Not in my yard, but outside the ‘burbs there must be hot, dry, sandy ground and rocky hills with lizards that scoot along, their tongues wagging in the hot breeze. According to the news, large patches of land have yet to see the dark side of a cloud or feel the sting of pelting rain. They are living in a parched and weary land where there is no water.
Isn’t it amazing how people can turn whatever circumstance they are going through and make it the worst scenario ever? It’s not just that we love to exaggerate, but that we are never quite content with what we have.
Humans are born complainers.
We gripe that a baker’s dozen is only thirteen instead of fourteen. We worry about our newest wrinkle when God gives us a healthy, long life. We want things we don’t need just to get them and toss them aside for a newer model.
I suffer with this malady quite frequently.
Even with all I have, the blessings of life, health, a free country, loving family and caring friends, I can turn a seemingly sunny day into a chapter of Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” I don’t know if it’s a gift exactly, but I’m pretty good at it.
The thing is, I don’t want to live in discontent like that. I don’t want to live as though I have no hope, because I do. I have Christ and he is the meaning of everything. He doesn’t leave us hopeless, storm-tossed, or forgotten. He gave his life that we might live abundantly. Hopeful. Loved. With peace that surpasses all understanding.
The world around us seems to be awash in self-importance, self-gratification, and self-indulgence. I often fall into this trap myself. It’s easy to think more of myself than others. To want and grasp and cling. I set myself up as a little god and want all of my desires met immediately or I’m unhappy, unfulfilled, unloving.
It can steal our joy. It can snuff our hope. It can make us go through life as though our glass is always half empty. When in fact, there is so much more.
Thankfulness. Thankfulness is the anti-venin of discontent.
Billy Graham wrote on the importance of thankfulness: “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.”
I’ve found that to be true in my own life. If I live with a spirit of thankfulness, I am content with what I have and who I am, but when I let ungratefulness slither into my heart, my contentment is eroded and I’m back to viewing life like a child standing at the foot of a tree fort and the ladder has been yanked up just out of reach.
In Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, she tells about recording all the things she is thankful for each day. Simple things like soap bubbles in the sink or rough whiskers on her husband’s cheeks; all get recorded in her journal of eucharisteo (or thankfulness).
She writes, “This pen. This is nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habits of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo. I’m hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart. It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it’s been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because that habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pen of gratitude. I hammer.”
The Bible talks about thankfulness or giving thanks over forty different times. So if God wants us to be thankful I guess there must be something to it. After all, he created us in His image and our purpose is to glorify God by reflecting Christ.
1 Chronicles 16:34 says, Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
So when the thunderstorms come again – and they will – I choose to be thankful for:
1. Petals wet and glistening in the morning sun
2. Slick wood deck shining with another free wash
3. Birds finding easy access to breakfast worms
4. Grass that grows lush and green without a hose in sight
and so on…
Gratitude is catching. What are you thankful for? Leave a comment and share.