” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I get grumpy and apathetic a lot. Lots of things irritate me and I get frustrated when I don’t get what I want. I also get overwhelmed easily and then don’t feel like doing anything. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that irritability and apathy are admirable traits – they are not. In fact if you’ve ever spent much time with someone who is like that, it can be quite discouraging and create an environment of fear or anxiety. I desperately wish to avoid being a man like this – but wanting to be different is not enough to be different.
I have found a secret to being rid of irritability and of apathy and a complaining heart – it is to give thanks in all circumstances. There is always something to be thankful for. When we spend our minutes thinking of all we can be glad of, instead of all we can be mad of, then joy and humility and gratitude flow naturally out of our spirit and we are a blessing to be around to others. And so, I write these things to remind me of at least some of the things I have to be thankful for – in hopes that I may read these and remember them when I inevitably feel grumpy like I do often. My prayer is that I would build an environment of joy for my children and my wife instead of one of fear or worry or doubt.
Dear God, I am thankful for these things:
- A wife and helper who loves you and encourages me. She is so much more beautiful and wonderful than I have ever understood.
- 5 adoring children who would give anything to spend time with me. How many people in our life are so happy to see us and be with us all the time as our children? They are each so unique and special and a gift to me.
- Friends who love Jesus and are an encouragement – they speak the truth to me, challenge me, love me and help me to follow Jesus more closely. They are so important and so helpful and like medicine on a sick day.
- Provision. I have never known hunger or thirst or the kind of misery that is present in so much of the world. Every need I have has always been provided and more so. I need nothing. Though I may want many things that I cannot afford – all that I need, I have – and it is such a gift.
- Skills and work. It is so good to have work to complete. I have gone long periods without a job and contrary to what you might think, it is not good. It is a blessing to have work and the skill to do it. To be able to complete tasks and add value and create order where there was chaos previously is a wonderful thing to be thankful for. What if we had no skills or ability to work and complete difficult tasks?
- Health. I have no medical issues or concerns. This is not the case for most of the world. Henry is still learning to walk though he is nearly four years old – he also cannot yet speak. These sort of challenges are not something that I have ever had to concern myself about, and I am so grateful for the health that God has given me.
- Hope. Jesus accomplished all the work necessary on my behalf to have a right relationship with God. I can stand confidently before the God of the universe, though I have disobeyed him completely, and I can know that I am loved and accepted because Jesus did that for me. This is an almost incomprehensible thing that I cannot deserve or ever earn.
- There is law and order and general levels of safety and security in the land that I live in. This is not the case in much of the world. Many live in places that are subject to terrorism, bombings, war and instability that I have never known. It is such a blessing to be able to live freely and safely in my home land.
- Art. It is a wonderful thing to get to experience the beauty of music, films and books that cause me to think and wonder and appreciate things that I would not otherwise consider. Art gives the meal of life it’s taste and the days are better because of it. Thank you God for art and for good artists.
- Truth. God has given us his Holy Spirit who teaches us all things true. He has given us his word which cuts through the noise of culture, politics and fads. God’s spirit and his word are a north star in a dark world. I can have confidence in the way to go when I look to them. Thank God for the truth and for wisdom.
There are so many more things to be thankful for, and if all the above were taken from me, painful as it would be, I would always have something to be thankful for. Praise God for his goodness and faithfulness to us. May we all be a people of praise and thankfulness instead of a people of irritability, apathy and complaints.