Monday, December 7, 2015

Advent Is a Season of Gratitude

Gratitude. Yeah, I know. Thanksgiving is over; we've all moved on. Time for giving. Or getting. I can't much tell anymore. I don't believe gratitude ever goes out of season.

I'm gonna shift gears on you pretty quickly, so buckle up and try to hang on: parables are a great way to teach and reveal truth. God and godly people used them throughout history. For instance, when David committed adultery with Bathsheba, Nathan the Prophet told David a story in order to reveal a difficult truth to him: the truth of the king's own sin. It worked. David was incensed by the "main character's" evil, and even imposed punishment on this villain. When Nathan exposed David as the evildoer, David repented and accepted his punishment from God as just and merciful.

Ok. Now to tie this all together, my parable:

A man was dealing with the mania of an adult daughter caught in addiction. He begged her, pleaded with her, even held her hand as he prayed with her; she very reluctantly indulged him. She was, at the time, working in an industry which fed her addiction and encouraged her sinful behavior. He often would cry out, "God, if only You will change her." But more often he would cry, "I can't keep this up. I can't keep looking at her like this. I can't keep having this craziness in my life. I can no longer deal with the shame of this child I have. She has no consideration for me." His was preoccupied with the impact her actions had on him. He sought comfort and prayer in a local prayer group. They understood the difficulty of his situation, but based on his "self" centered complaints would occasionally suggest he begin praying for God to work in this situation, as well as specifically for his daughter's deliverance. They prayed that God would change this man's heart toward his daughter -- no matter how wrong she was -- that she might be moved by his love for her.

Months later, while attending prayer meeting, this man stood up. His daughter had quit her job weeks before, had been seeking help for her addiction, and had moved in with him in an attempt to get her life together; she was currently working part-time, for minimum wage at a bodega. By all indications, she was on the right track. Before his listeners were able to shout "Hallelujah!" at what they presumed was a praise update, he added, "Please pray she will be able to find a better paying job -- maybe in another pub; I can't go on supporting her this way." The prayer partners were stunned. 

Had they not just been praying his daughter would be cured of her addiction? Did God not provide her a way out? Had this man ever trusted God to handle the situation for his good, his daughter's good, and God's own glory? or had he simply rubbed a lamp and summoned some magic minion to work at his behest? Had he ever at all been grateful that God handled the situation with his daughter's health? or had he just gone straight to hating the way it imposed on him?

Gratitude. For every good thing. Even the ones that challenge us to change or to change the way we do things. For every pregnancy that makes our backs ache, or every child that wakes to be fed in the middle of the night. For every job that requires we venture out at 2 AM in below freezing temperatures, or takes our parents away from our Christmas recitals. For every spouse that hogs the remote, and the ones that hide it! For friends who do not believe as we do, and "foes" that do. For bills, and long lines, and delays at the airport. For every inconvenience and every trial, a blessing is revealed, if only we see things with eyes of gratitude.

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