I knew someone who, in every conversation, always criticized and complained. Sometimes not even five minutes into a “Hi, what’s up?” conversation she was gushing unhappiness about something. Needless to say, I slowly closed the lines of communication between us until they were practically non-existent.
We’ve all known someone like this and I’m willing to bet you attempted to deal with them in a similar way. Communication isn’t possible when someone is unwaveringly focused on the negative.
I’ve been this person too.
Lately I’ve been this person with God.
I told you recently I’ve been in a season of discontent. I’ve been disgruntled and ungrateful. What usually makes these seasons more difficult is how God falls silent. Sometimes He’s silent because He’s teaching me to seek Him differently. Sometimes He’s silent because I’m not really listening.
But this time, God was silent because every time He tried to start a “Hi, what’s up?” conversation with me – I met Him with selfish, negative accusations.
“Where have you been, God?”
“I’m really upset.”
“Finally noticing I’m not doing so well down here, are You? Finally decided to show up?”
“Why did you let _____ happen?”
“If you don’t do something about _____ soon, I’m going to give up and go back to America.”
Sometimes when I foolishly address the Holy, Almighty God in such a way, He graciously and patiently hears out my hurt and discouragement.
But this time He could see my heart wasn’t genuinely hurt or discouraged. He saw straight through to a heart that was determined to be negative.
And so He was silent.
Like a parent who won’t give in to their child’s temper tantrum.
Like a friend who begins to tune out someone who is determined to be miserable.
He didn’t answer when I spitefully ignored Him and His Word.
He didn’t answer when I shouted bitter comments in His direction.
He didn’t answer when I complained through selfish tears.
He DID answer when I shut up.
As Jesus so often does, He answered with a question. “When was the last time you thanked me for something?”
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Never have I needed the spiritual discipline of giving thanks more than I do now! It’s not something that’s coming to my heart naturally at the moment. It’s easier to complain.
But thanksgiving is how I’m supposed to enter His courts. Thanksgiving is the healthy remedy for an attitude bent towards the pessimistic. It silences my grumpy heart long enough to hear from the Lord who is good and whose “love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
Thank the Lord!
How do you practice the spiritual discipline of giving thanks?