I recently had the privilege of listening to a series of lessons on the Israelites: From the Exodus to the Promised Land. The teachings highlighted how God delivered his chosen people from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and then His dealings with them as they wandered in the wilderness another 40 years for their lack of faith. (I remember reading these stories when I was a kid and marveling that these Children of Israel never seemed to learn from their mistakes and how they kept repeating them; and how they complained!) The teacher of the series commented on their ingratitude and posed the thought, “I wonder how that made God feel?” Then he challenged us to consider how WE make God feel in our lives, and how we can be just as ungrateful as the Israelites were in the desert.
I’ve been trying to apply this to my life and it’s a real lesson for me. What a multitude of things I find to complain about. For instance, “I wish it would stop raining.” Yes, it could be snow, which, to me, is worse. But the dreariness of inclement weather can get to all of us. However, a truly grateful person would thank God for watering the earth and keeping us from famine due to drought. A better comment would be, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
“I don’t know why you don’t make this pain/trial/illness go away, Lord.” Better: “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
“This was not on my list of things to do today, Lord.” A more trusting, grateful comment: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Lord, I can’t possibly take any more stress!” Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“People aren’t being fair, Lord.” “…if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (I Peter 4:15)
I can’t say I have perfected all this, but I am a much happier person when I let go of things beyond my control and trust God and His Word to take care of me.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain…” (I Timothy 6:6)