It was one of those days.
I was unsure if I ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed’ or Murphy’s Law was in full effect. Whatever the case, I was now in a sour mood. My mind continually drifted back towards what had gone wrong, thus, fueling the swirl of negativity. Simply grinding through work didn’t help as my disparaging thoughts clouded my focus. I couldn’t shake it; I had to take a walk.
If you happened to drive by to see me, you would have seen a gloomy rain cloud over my head. That’s how it felt, to say the least! As I dragged my feet around the block, the attitude of my heart began to reveal itself through words…. Short phrases that showed my frustration…
Lots of complaining.
Lamenting a ‘Woe Is me’ since the focus is on I.
It took time to get over myself and out of my head. The Holy Spirit was patient as I eventually gave my complaints to God. The pessimistic disposition began to fade as I took note of what He said next to me: “Be grateful.”
Be grateful? I am not in the mood to give thanks, or so I thought. But as I pondered on this phrase, I realized (as I should have quicker) it was true. Being grateful reminds you of what you have, while grumbling focuses on the lack. To live a Spirit-filled life means carrying a grateful heart each day despite the disasters and the distractions that come.
“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
These short instructions from Paul make it clear that we are to be grateful as part of God’s will for our lives. Giving thanks is more than a meal or a holiday; it’s a lifestyle. When we are grateful, it conditions our heart to be receptive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. It causes a person to look upward in appreciation rather than inward with criticisms and objections. Christ-followers are constantly looking for the specific instruction of God’s will, such as: What am I called to do? Where am I to live? Who am I supposed to marry? While it is good to discern these particular questions, the general call of God’s will comes first – rejoicing, praying, and thanking. As we live out these commands as God’s will, will we not be in the correct position to see our questions answered? To answer that, yes – yes, we will!
When it comes to complaining, I cannot help but think of the Israelites. They were set free from slavery in Egypt, but the celebration was cut short as complaints continued to pour in from the people. There are 14 instances of complaints in the desert, ranging from hunger (Exodus 16:1-4), to leadership problems [from his own brother and sister!] (Numbers 12:1-2) to resistance and rebellion to take the promise land (Numbers 14:1-10). God had patience with the people, but their persistent grumbling revealed their stubborn hearts. Although God provided the people in miraculous ways, they were blinded by their expectations and wants. As a result, the Lord did not have any person who grumbled against Him go into the promise land. The generation was cut off, while their children would inherit the land.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’” – Philippians 2:14-15
When we complain, we come against God since He is in control. When we give thanks, we recognize His goodness, even if we still have needs. Being grateful demonstrates humility and dependency that acknowledges God as the provider. Since He is in charge, He can also change the situation that one can easily gripe about. So why complain?
There’s a choice we are presented with – to be a grumbling generation or a grateful generation. I want to be a part of a remnant who sees the promises that God has laid out for his people. If that means to be grateful instead of a grumbler, I’m all in. Are you?
Have a blessed week!