Thursday, November 19, 2009

Inconvenient Gratitude

It's easy to be thankful, isn't it?..... when all is going well, when we have what we want or get what we need, when everything lines up perfectly and works out to our advantage?

But what about the times when things are NOT going well, when we DON'T receive what we want or get what we THINK we need, when everything does NOT line up perfectly or when it does NOT work out to our advantage?

Are you thankful in those times?

The following article was written a few days ago, and I just couldn't help but copy it here. Please just take a few moments to read it over.

Inconvenient Gratitude

Am I thankful?
Sure I am. As long as it’s convenient.
As long as the gift-giver is within ear’s reach of my thank you. And as long as what I’m thankful for is good, comfortable, pleasant and smells great.
I never thank anyone for rolling over my toe with their cart in the grocery store or thank someone for an unkind word. And I never thank God for struggles.
I mean, how stupid would I sound:
Thank you, God, for NO MONEY to pay the mortgage today.
Thank you that my seven-year-old has emotional outbursts every morning before school that reduce her to a pile of unbrushed auburn waves and tears on the bathroom floor.
Thanks for spilled apple juice, dried and sticky on the floor.
Thank you, God, for the rejection of friends and that crazy mean email last week. Thank you for the tears it cost.
Thank you for the argument I had with my husband last night. Thank you, God, that he doesn’t understand me.

We are usually thankful for blessings.
Gifts. Encouragement. Provision.
We send thank-you notes to mothers and cousins for baby gifts and Christmas packages. We call our pastors and thank them for the sermon. We are grateful for warm beds and fireplaces that glow in our family rooms.
We are thankful because it’s easy and expected.
But the sweet times, the easy-flowing happy times are not what shape me. I am comfortable and will stay the same if everything always goes my way.
Discomfort is the only way I grow. And I am never grateful for sitting in the valley of hurt and pain. I’m never thankful when things don’t work out like I planned.
I stamp my feet instead and no-fair God. I tell Him He doesn’t know what it's like to be me.
I’m not changed in the lots-of-money, kids-are-well, husband-adores-me days.
But I am changed in the I’m-fat, second-argument-this-week-with-my-mom, worried-about-my-kids days.
This is when I’m moved to trust. I have to because nothing else works.
These are the days when God comes in and under-girds my heart with His own, turns my head to refocus my attention and then asks me to trust.
And I should be grateful that He thinks enough of me to carefully craft difficulty to edge me toward beauty, kindness, and grace with pressure.
I don’t want to just be thankful for the easy. I want to be grateful for the hard. And that involves a I'm making today.
Will you join me?
by Sarah Markley

When the author wrote, "Discomfort is the only way I grow.....", those words just jumped off the screen at me.

Why does it have to be that way? Why does it have to be uncomfortable or hurting or painful? Why can't everything just be going along jim-dandy and tra-la-lah and carefree.....?

Well, God didn't promise us a rose garden..... not here, anyways. ....Along with the sunshine, there's gonna be a little rain sometimes.... (remember that song?) He does promise us that we'll have a wonderful life in Heaven as we spend eternity with Him, and He also promises that He'll never leave us nor forsake us while we are here in our earthly form. I am thankful for that!

But in the meantime, down here on planet Earth, the pain and hurt and discomfort and inconveniences that we experience... well, to put it plainly, I think it just stinks! HOWEVER, those times of pain and hurt and discomfort and inconvenience, including those "catastrophic moments" that suddenly jump into our every-day lives, will help us to grow; they mature us in our walk with Christ; they strengthen us, through Him, so that each day we learn more how to trust our Lord and feel His Almighty Holy Presence.

HOW do people get through each day by not having a relationship with the Lord? I simply do not have that answer. I don't know how they cope. He's able to keep me going. I don't understand it all, so I must lean on Him. I told someone just the other day, "my needs are being met", just as He promises.

Did you get that? My "needs" are being met; not my "wants", but my "needs". Matthew 6:31-33 says, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

My needs are met.

I am in a growing season.

I am learning to be thankful.....

......even in the "inconvenient" times.

To read Sarah's article at "(in)courage", please click here.

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