When I was in Seminary in Kentucky, I took one of our church members to the welfare office so she could upgrade her paperwork which would allow her to continue her food stamp program. While I was waiting in the outer office for her, I noticed a sign on the wall. The message on that sign has stayed with me now for over 30 years! It said, “I used to complain that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”
Isn’t that a sobering thought? Yet, how many times do we complain about something when it could always be worse?
We complain about it being too hot or too cold. Too wet or too dry. Too windy or not enough wind. Too much snow or not enough snow. We say: “As soon as I get healthy, I’m going to enjoy life.” “As soon as I get this promotion, we will be happy.” “As soon as I make more money, we can do more things like go on a vacation.” (Did you know the more money you make, the more money you are going to spend? It’s true!) “When I get married, I will be happy.” Some might say, “When I get this divorce, I will be happy.”
Listen … happiness is a choice. Someone has said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” And the same goes for our happiness in life. If you choose to be happy, you will be happy. If you choose to be unhappy, you will be. If your focus is on the good things in life, then “Mr. Bluebird will be on your shoulder.”
If you focus on the bad things in life, you will lose the joy of life, or even the joy of your salvation. I have seen it happen time and time again. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his ways, but the Lord determines his steps.” See, many times, we make plans that don’t work out and we get down and out. But if we realized that our steps are determined by God, then everyday life might go a little easier.
I complain about having to clean the leaves out of my gutters — while a homeless person is living in a cardboard box over a heat vent in Columbus. I can go to the fridge and get what I want to eat, or lay down in a soft, warm bed every night while a lot of people go to bed hungry and cold. I hear a lot of people complaining about a “Red Cup” the last couple of weeks, while a little brown-skinned boy scoops up a drink of warm water from a mud puddle somewhere in Africa.
People are complaining because they don’t make $15 an hour, while millions of people do not have a job. Read Psalm 115 it tells us that God is mindful of us. In other words, He knows our needs even before we have them! He knew about them even before He spoke the words, “Let there be light.” And not only does God know our needs, He has each and every situation planned out in full detail for us. Think about that for a while. You will not be able to get your mind around it.
Romans 8:28 tells us that “All things are working together for good.” It does not say that all things are good. No, it says that God can use all things and work out good in our lives if we will trust Him to do so.
The next time you start to get down and out … remember to quit allowing the “little things in life” to steal your joy, keep your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
And that is Something To Think About for this week.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.3C-Church.org or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.