Your Free Ticket to a Lifetime of Contentment
WHEN THE PROPANE FOR THE GRILL RAN OUT, WE STOPPED GRILLING.
I had personally learned how to stitch but was still down to one pair of jeans. We had sold everything that wasn’t nailed down, including all of my recording gear. Our fridge was empty, and our pantry was close behind. When the vacuum broke, I vacuumed the house on my hands and knees with a tiny Shop-Vac. “Father, do You see this?” I would ask.
However, throughout this season we knew we were blessed. And we chose to believe it. We chose to see it. Even while we experience great need in this life, we can always find something to be thankful for. Karen and I were able to see His provision in the small things. Even though we were overwhelmed, we guarded our hearts against self-pity.
Self-pity is deadly. It will shred a hopeful believing heart in moments. Whenever Karen and I began to realize we were experiencing self-pity, we would decide to give thanks to God for all of His goodness, often even making a list of all He had done in and for us.
Thankfulness is the key to victory in the battle against self-pity. God is always good and when we focus on His goodness it is impossible not to believe. Looking for evidence of His goodness in our lives and then giving thanks always increases our faith.
Self-pity cannot exist in the presence of thankfulness. I have seen this first hand with my kids. We will be driving down the road after having gone out for pizza, after having gone to the swimming pool, after having gone to the theater, after having gone to the amusement park, after having gone jet skiing, after having flown on a space odyssey through the Dagobah system, when suddenly one of them will remember something we didn’t get to do that day. Then they will begin to complain.
It starts out with a statement like, “we never have any fun,” followed by a list of things they never get to do. As one complaint follows another, the words “never” and “always” are used more and more freely until the minivan is filled with a cloud of self-pity.
That’s when I bark, “Quiet!” Then, “I want five things from each of you that you are grateful for. Quick!”
It starts out slowly, as they can’t seem to think of anything. So I remind them somewhat sarcastically, “Ahh, the Dagobah system?”
Eva, our youngest, likes this game and always gets there first. Finally, Maddy remembers something she is grateful for. Then Ethan follows close behind. A little more time and Maddy has something else, and Ethan has found one more thing.
By now Eva has given ten things that she is grateful for. By the time the older kids get to number four, the atmosphere in the van has changed. And by the time we get to five, we just keep going until we are matching Eva. Eventually, all we see is the goodness of God. There is no end of things we can be thankful for.
Karen and I are learning to practice thankfulness, even when we’re in the tough wilderness seasons—especially when we’re in the tough wilderness seasons. We are convinced that living thankful not only empowers us into joy and peace, but we reveal and empower a legacy of full life, health, and peace for our kids as well. We want to give them the road map to true happiness.
When we practice thankfulness we begin to see God as He is. We also begin to see the fullness of what He has given us. You see, we can only give what we have. While self-pity creates a perception of poverty, thankfulness increases our awareness of how good our Father is and, thus, how rich we truly are. His goodness will become so overwhelming that the desire to give, even in the midst of need, will overcome us, overflowing into radical generosity for our neighbors—because God’s goodness can’t be contained.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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