Last week, we had a boy with an attitude. It started with something minor, but when I corrected him on it, the situation escalated. As my husband and I talked with this child about his attitude, we told him that we were concerned because it seems that lately he has developed a pattern of grumpy attitudes. We wondered what was causing him to be in such a bad mood. The answer was that he doesn’t like to have to do work all the time. He doesn’t like to do school and he doesn’t like to do chores. In other words, he doesn’t like to do things that are a part of normal life. He would rather read and play all day. Well, wouldn’t we all!
My husband and I explained to our son that we are on dangerous ground when we think, “I will just be happy if ______” or “I can’t be happy until ______.” Because the reality is that even if we let him stop doing school completely and took away his chores, he still wouldn’t be happy. If personal comfort is the goal (or possessions, or achievement, or controlling other people), then there will always be something to be unhappy about. The content person, on the other hand, can be happy even while washing the dishes!
I often need this reminder myself! Parenting young children is hard. Parenting several children is hard. We have had seasons of babies with reflux, seasons with job losses, and seasons with both of us working too many hours. And one thing that we have learned is that it’s not really about the circumstances! That doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle or ever feel sad or discouraged. But at the same time, happiness really has less to do with our current life situation than we often think.
True gratitude is wrapped up in God’s character. Gratitude apart from God falls so far short. We feel happy about things that are going well and grumble about things that are going badly. Gratitude seems to often be a comparison. We look at others who have it worse and are thankful that we have whatever it is that they don’t, or we look at someone whose life is going better than ours and feel dissatisfied. Instead, our gratitude and our confidence should rest on the character of God. We can be thankful even in the midst of difficulty knowing that if we could somehow see and know what God sees and knows, that we would be making the same decisions. We walk by faith in His character, not by sight in our own severely limited wisdom.
“I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.”
Psalm 34: 1-3, 8-10, 15
Psalm 34:1 was a verse that I meditated on daily when Janie was a newborn. We thought that we had this newborn thing down, but she cried far more than any other baby we had ever had. (It turned out to be a tongue tie – she couldn’t swallow enough to feel full, especially when she was tired.) I am thankful – not for the crying and for her physical discomfort, but for God’s amazing provision in diagnosing it and getting it fixed, for the opportunity to learn to trust Him more, for the compassion that our older children learned during this time, and for the blessing that this little daughter is to our home!
Whatever you family is facing this Thanksgiving, I pray that you will find the Lord to be GOOD.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!