Summary: We might find it comes easier to complain and gripe than to give thanks. In that, we're a lot like the people of the Bible, and, just like them, we sometimes need a heart-adjustment.
Is there a cure for worry, misery and fear? Keep that question in the back of your mind as we continue today.
In a region of Mexico HOT AND COLD SPRINGS are found side by side. Because of the convenience of this natural phenomenon the families often bring their laundry, boil their clothes in the hot spring and then rinse them in the cold spring.
A tourist watching this procedure commented to his Mexican guide, “They must think mother nature is generous to freely supply such ample clean hot and cold water.”
The guide replied, “No, señor, there is much grumbling because she does not supply the soap.” [Hodgin, Michael. 1001 Humorous Illus. Zondervan. p 348.]
What lens do you look at life through? Is life a problem to solve, a sad condition to be indured? Is life one hardship after the other, with little rest in between?
Or do you see life as a blessing. Your life, as a blessing. Do you see life as being full of challenges that you are eager to rise up to meet?
Another way of asking this question is: what is your internal dialogue like? In the day-to-day, does your life seem to yourself, and others, one of Thanksgiving? Or does it perhaps more like one of Gripes-giving?
I was toying with calling this message “The Power of Gripesgiving”. I was going to start by talking about how healing and fulfilling it is to complain and gripe about our problems.
I was going to go on and on as if I thought the day was really called “Gripesgiving”. Then I was going to have a couple of people yell out: “It’s not Gripegiving Day. It’s Thanksgiving Day, ya nit!”.
Then I woulde have said: “That’s very different. Nevermind”.
For those of us old enough to remember Rosanne Rosanadana, the Gilda Radner character on Saturday Night Live who would go on rants based on things she had misunderstood, that might have been funny.
For the rest, it might have just been weird.
Anyhow, it’s perhaps enough to ask those two questions about the lens we see life through and the nature of our internal thoughts or dialogue.
The theme of thanksgiving in Scripture is one that you find over and over again when you read the Bible; this reminder to remember good things and to do so with genuine gratitude. But it’s never the idea of gratitude presented as a platitude or shallow comfort.
In the Bible you don’t find anyone having a particularly pleasant time. You don’t find people who are living lives of leisure being encouraged to think positively about their circumstances.
What you find in the Bible as you spend any amount of time there is troubled people, living under oppressive political regimes. You find people suffering in exile.
You find people far from home and comfort. You find people who are sick, who are needy. You find people at the end of themselves, more often than not crying out to God in desperation.
So that’s what you find in the Bible. And it’s not really all that different from what you find out in the world today. It’s not so different from the way most people on this planet live. It’s not so different, perhaps, from our lives.
And all those people are encouraged to give thanks.
Really? “That’s rich”, you might say. In fact, we might be inclined to react badly when we hear about thanksgiving.
We might actually complain long and hard about how just truly miserable and impossible our situation is and how the call to being thankful that Scripture offers us is no solution at all, no help or use at all.
It’s true that thanksgiving is not a concrete solution to any problem. It’s not about how to fix stuff that’s not right.
It’s not particularly practical when you first think about it.
But thankfulness IS a call to a different perspective, a different way of looking at life and at the challenges life is throwing at us right now.
There is no doubt that for many on this planet, including many of us, much of life, or at least parts of life, are incredibly difficult.
But God offers another way. I’ve been reading through the Old Testament for many months now.
It’s good to read, but if you have much empathy, the amount of drama and suffering and hardship can be a little overwhelming.
The Scripture that ____ read is found around the middle of the Bible in a book that’s really a songbook, called the Book of Psalms. This psalm, like many others, was written by King David, a fella who had not had an easy life on any level.
He had known hard work as a young man, serving as a shepherd. He had been made king, technically, at a very young age… But, in reality, he was hunted like a dog by the presiding current king of Israel.