Feb 17, 2019 • Written by Judy Episcopo
Grumpiness or Gratitude
The Israelites in the Bible were known for their grumpiness. Really. Of course in many ways I totally get it. God had them wander in the desert for 40 years, battling extreme temperatures, thirst, hunger and enemies. If I am honest, I get a bit grumpy after camping in a tent for 24 hours.
The Bible, however, has some unexpectedly harsh words about grumpiness. God says in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church that we “should not grumble as the (Israelites) did ~ and were killed by the destroying angel…” (1 Corinthians 10:10).
Yikes! The Bible says grumbling and complaining can be hazardous to our health and open up a door in our lives for a “destroying angel?” What’s that about?
Elsewhere, the Bible tells us in gentler terms, but no less serious, to be thankful (Colossians 3:15) and to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Does this mean we are not allowed to be cranky? Ever? What do we do with circumstances or people that legitimately cause us frustration, anger and sadness? We can’t go around putting on a happy face and pretend everything is ok. Grumpiness can’t be stuffed! (I personally think that would make a good bumper sticker.)
This is true. Grumpiness can’t be stuffed. But grumpiness does not have to ruin our day, undermine our relationships or control our life. Learning to be thankful in the midst of difficult circumstances is a discipline and counter intuitive, but it can help give us needed perspective.
This is because every day God blesses us with good gifts. “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another… “(John 1:16 NLT). Lot’s of bad things happen in our world, but not everything is bad. God will bless us each and every day but if we are so consumed with the bad, we totally miss out on enjoying any of the good. It’s like being completely focused on the burnt meatloaf and totally missing the good dessert served afterwards. Or the buttery mashed potatoes served at the same time as the burnt meatloaf.
Of course that might sound a little too simplistic, especially for those going through prolonged, painful circumstances. But looking for ways to be thankful in the midst of it all helps us begin to recognize God’s redemptive work in our broken world. Isaiah 61:3,4 talk about God bringing beauty out of ashes and producing the oil of gladness from our tears of sadness.
Gratitude during hard times is sign that we still trust in a good God in spite of what we are experiencing. Psalm 50:23 more clearly states, “He who sacrifices thank offerings (it is a sacrifice because it is hard to be thankful when you don’t feel like it!) … prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of the Lord.”
Wow! Grumpiness can lead to destruction, but thankfulness can be the doorway to deliverance and life! And there is more…
Thankfulness is seen as the gateway to His Presence: Psalm 100:4, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…”
Gratitude is a prelude to miracles demonstrated in the scene of Jesus feeding the 5000: John 6:11, “Jesus then took the loaves and gave thanks, and distributed to those who had been seated all they wanted."
And learning to be thankful in any and all situations connects us with God’s peace that passes all understanding: Philippians 4:6,7. “…By prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God…will guard your hearts…”
Thankfulness is really a big deal. It’s powerful stuff! Take the thanksgiving challenge. It’s this: for every grumpy, complaining thought you entertain, think of THREE ways you can be thankful. I guarantee your life will not be the same.