So, somewhere between last week's post and this week's celebration of Thanksgiving, I got hit hard with a bout of ungratefulness. I didn't realize it was really happening until I felt sapped dry of joy and it was close to impossible to muster any up. How...why...I just don't really know. The last month was busy, but fun and full of exciting things and people. God had been teaching me a lot about being content and taking complain-y thoughts (and words) captive. Then...boom! What was once an attitude of thanksgiving became an outlook of grumpiness. That lady upset me, this guy frustrated me, my kids, my husband, that person in traffic...how quickly the spiral went downward. Even though I feel like I'm still crawling out of the pit I've dug, I have been praying for wisdom and a biblical perspective. Maybe sharing what God is showing me will help?
1. When I give a little, I end up giving a lot.
If I feel like entertaining a negative, grumbly thought or attitude, then I typically don't quit and become joyful in the next 30 seconds. No, I must be very diligent and purposeful to cut off garbage thoughts and to replace them quickly with godly thoughts. If I hang on a little, it will become long. I thought I had been enjoying victory. My days were positive and I was thankful that God had been working on my attitude. But, then there was this one thing...and I dwelled on that a little too much...and pretty soon the thankfulness in my heart and mind was sucked dry. As soon as you realize the thought is there, stop it!
2. I need to read the Word with new eyes.
When I feel spiritually dry or find myself feeling like I've "been there, done that", I need to shake up the routine and fast. Oftentimes, this means slow down the pace and really let God's living Word soak into my bones. How often have I found myself racing through my morning bible reading only to have finished and forgotten what I just read? (Yikes, yeah, I do believe James had something to say about this early in his letter...) Do whatcha gotta do, but shake things up.
3. I need to ask God for HELP!
This really should be #1, so just re-arrange this order accordingly. We can do nothing apart from Christ, so if you're struggling anytime or anywhere on this faith journey, you best be going to your heavenly Father for His wisdom and strength. Usually, I find myself trying to do things on my own again when I'm stuck in sin or feeling far from God. A few sure ways to feel un-thankful is to take God for granted, feel like you've got it all together without Him (whether we say that or not) and generally just be self-sufficient.
4. Even though it's not coming naturally, I must practice thankfulness.
A quick internet perusal of hot blogs revealed a whole lot of writing on this topic so we are not without resources. However, our ultimate resource is the bible, of course. What happens when we don't practice thankfulness? Romans 1:21 summarizes this nicely...
...because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
The subsequent verses detail the downward spiral of an un-thankful heart. Do we imagine for one moment that our ingratitude, our grumbling spirits, our un-thankfulness could lead to such sins as idolatry (vs. 25), homosexuality (vs. 26-27), sexual immorality, wickedness, murder, haters of God (vs. 28-32), on and on.
5. I need to repent.
Being un-thankful is more than just being grumbly or complain-y, it's an outright sin. There are countless verses in the Bible exhorting us to "give thanks". Just this month I've put a new scripture each day on Facebook that includes the word "thanks"--30 days just touches the tip of the scriptures related to thanksgiving. When God tells us something, do we have the option of not doing it? Of thinking it's only a suggestion? His Word is Truth and when we live by it, we live in the truth and in His power. So, I don't want to sugar-coat this any longer. I'm not just in a foul mood or bummed out; I'm sinning, so I need to repent and move forward.
I'm grateful--I mean truly thankful--for God's amazing and measureless grace. Sometimes I can feel like such a wreck, yet He is continuing His beautiful work in me (Philippians 1:6), and in all His children. And, then we come full circle to last week's post again and in God's grace and continued work in us, we find joy in our salvation!