by Shayla Asselin
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
“I just can’t keep up with everything. The house needs to be cleaned. The dishes need to be washed. Two papers are due this week. The laundry pile is the size of a small mountain. My husband keeps leaving his dirty clothes in the middle of the floor. The kids need my attention all the time. Groceries have to be bought, put away, and then cooked for supper tonight. I have to work ten hours today. I have to stop and get gas in my car on the way home in the middle of rush hour. I volunteered to help the ladies at our church get a dinner together this weekend. I don’t know why I always put so much on my plate…”
Now, every part of the above scenario may not apply to your life, but I am sure you can at least relate to the overwhelming stress that comes with a busy life. There is always something that needs to be done and there is usually something left undone at the end of the day. I think the majority of us could agree that life can get a little, or a lot, crazy sometimes. The craziness of life often reintroduces us to the companion of stress - complaining.
I heard someone describe complaining as “giving expression to one's self-centered discontentment.”
That definition really made me stop and consider how “ugly” a complaining attitude really is, especially on a believer. Paul reminds us in Phillipians 2:14 that grumbling and complaining is never a legitimate response, no matter the circumstances.
So what do we do to combat the human tendency to complain? I'm learning that the answer is to practice gratitude. Many times we have the misconception that we’ll stop complaining when we get happy. But I think the right approach is that when we get happy we’ll stop complaining. Understand that life will NEVER be perfect on this side of heaven. Nothing will ever be 100% conducive to your happiness and satisfaction. Because of sin, we live in a broken world. There will always be something we can find to complain about.
But, when we make a conscious decision to choose joy and gratitude despite the circumstances, we are applying biblical principles to our life.
Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” “In every thing” sounds pretty all encompassing to me.
Since this is the month of November and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I want to challenge you to make it a habit this month to practice gratitude in every thing. Chances are that many of the things we complain are the very things we asked God to bless us with - a home, a family, a job, a car, ect. We prayed for these things but then act like we forgot homes need to be cleaned, families have to be fed and nurtured, jobs have to be worked, cars have to be serviced, and everything else that we prayed for normally takes some amount of effort.
At the beginning of this article, I listed several complaints. But when I approach these circumstances with gratitude, it sounds a lot different:
“Thank you God for this home you blessed me and my family with. Thank you for the food we ate that dirtied these dishes. Thank you for the opportunity to further my education. Thank you for the excessive amounts of clothes we have to wear. Thank you for a loving husband who would pick up these clothes if I reminded him where he left them. Thank you for the opportunity and privilege to be a mommy. Thank you for the money to buy groceries. Thank you for a job that helps pay the bills. Thank you for a car to drive. Thank you for a wonderful church and a group of friends I get to work with to help further Your kingdom.”
See, when we practice gratitude, complaining and stress seem to fade away and we realize just how blessed we are by God.
So I encourage you, try not to complain about the blessings you prayed for.
Practice gratitude in all things.