Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Practicing Thankfulness = Contentment

Ecclesiastes 6:9 It is better to see what you have than want more. Wanting more is useless – like chasing the wind (NCV)

Why is it that when God supplies everything that we NEED, we still complain and WANT more? I'm am as guilty as anyone.

It’s an age old problem! The Israelites, while in captivity in Egypt, prayed and begged for God to set them free from slavery. You know the story; Moses came and delivered them, parted the Red Sea, gave them the Ten Commandments and led them in the building of the Tabernacle which God in turn filled with His Glory! They had everything they needed. They needed deliverance and God sent Moses to set them free. They needed guidance and God gave them laws to follow. They needed food; God gave them manna straight from Heaven. God gave them all that they NEEDED but for them, it wasn’t enough.

Literally, just days after being rescued from Egypt and seeing many miracles along the way the Israelites began to complain and doubt what God was doing. The Egyptian army began to come after them and one might think that after seeing God perform all of those miracles that they would have faith that God would deliver them here as well. But get this; They responded by asking Moses what he had done by bringing them out of Egypt for it would have been much better for them to stay in slavery than for them to die in the desert. They saw all that God had provided thus far yet still didn’t trust him to provide here.

After freeing the Israelites, Moses became their spiritual leader. They looked to him for guidance and wisdom and as any great leader does, He looked to God. Moses would go to the top of the mountain to meet with God and receive instruction for his people so that they could follow Him in all of His ways. In Exodus chapter 32 the Israelites decided that Moses was taking too long. They needed some guidance and they weren't getting it fast enough. Their great plan when they didn’t get what they wanted was to build a golden calf and surely it would guide them. I know it sounds silly to us, but the Egyptians had taught them much about false gods and when their faith was weak they quickly went back to what they knew rather than waiting on God to provide. Isn’t that just like us?

When the Israelites became hungry God gave them what they needed by raining down bread from heaven. He gave them more than enough for everyone in the camp. And wouldn’t you know it, they began to complain again. Sometime later, the Bible says, they began to crave other food. Again they began complaining and comparing life in the desert to life in Egypt. “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumber, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna” (Number 11:5-6). As He always does, God provided what they needed. The manna was more than enough to satisfy their hunger and give proper nutrition to their bodies but they wanted more!

Does any of this sound familiar to you? I know it does to me. We think if we could just get a raise at work it would make things easier for our family. We get the raise and guess what? It doesn’t make things easier, we just spend more. Or, if we just had more time then we could spend the extra time with our family and guess what happens? You got it! That extra time is spent striving for more! We might be with our families but we want more sports, more entertainment, more food, you name it, rather than just wanting what we have right there in our families. Unfortunately I believe America has become a breeding ground for wanting MORE! More money, more food, bigger homes, bigger cars, better job, better spouse, and you can put just about anything behind the more. I know this because I used to want all of the same things until the LORD taught me a few things as I struggled with poverty.

So how do we learn to be content with what we have?

1. We have to first understand that it is a learned experience

2. Secondly, you only learn contentment in tough times.  It's easy to be content when all is well but it is really put to the test and learned during adversity.

3. When you do learn contentment, striving for achievement and comparing ourselves to others are no longer suitable.  Thankfulness becomes the norm.  Contentment is found in wanting what you have, not pursuing what you want.

So how do we get to the point where contentment becomes a part of who we are? I think we start by changing our attitude. If we turn our complaining  into gratitude and thankfulness I believe our attitude will change without having any chance at staying negative.

We have to be intentional about being thankful because thankfulness breeds contentment.  Here are some ways that I practice thankfulness:

~ take 5 minutes every night before bed and write down everything that I am thankful for that day

~Pray daily for a thankful attitude asking God to show me the little gifts that I fail to see in my busy daily life.

~ Tell those in my family how thankful I am for them.  Here's the kicker.  I try to do this even when I am not very thankful for them at the moment.  That's hard, but it changes my attitude. 

Dear LORD ~ Thank you for showing me daily the little gifts that you give along the way.  A beautiful sunset, a friend over lunch, encouragement from my boss, a kiss from my husband, an unexpected act from my kids.  Give me your eyes to see them and allow contentment to grow in my life through my intentional acts of thankfulness.  In Jesus name!

today I am linking with:  Women Living Well and Time Warp Wife


Mynnette said...

This is fabulous! I have been thinking about this a lot. I have friends who have come to me wanting sympathy and I try to help them see what they have. They do not want to hear it. Am I the same way? This is what I've been pondering. Thanks for more thoughts and feelings on the subject! :)

allisonherrin said...

Mynette, you are so very welcome. I have to keep myself and my family in check daily. Having tangible ways to combat things always helps! Thanks for visiting

Krisitna said...

Wonderful post, really great. I don't know if that picture is just a picture or your own tattoo, but it's great! Love it.

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