I’ve been thinking about how I can grow in my attitude of gratitude lately. It’ s far too easy to slip into the attitude of complaining, even if it is only about the traffic or the weather. Despite the blessings and the many times when God intervenes on our behalf we can still complain.
There are a group of people in the bible that are famous for their complaining and ingratitude. After 430 years of slavery to the Egyptians, the Israelites, through God’s miraculous intervention, were released from bondage. As they left Egypt, God allowed them to collect riches, cattle, food, gold, jewels and supplies. God performed many miracles as they traveled through the wilderness. He selected them as His people, promising to take them to a land “filled with milk and honey.”
They saw God open up the Red Sea to protect them from Pharaoh and his army; and provide food and water in the desert. But at one point in their history we read, “The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”(Exodus 16:2) The whole congregation wasn’t just a few people; it was an entire community numbering approximately two million people. (Numbers 1:45-46). They grumbled about everything, even when God kept revealing how much He loved and cared for them all. No matter what God did for them, it was never enough!
We can shake our heads at the Israelites, but how often can we take for granted all the good things in our life, and forget what God has done for us? Much of our complaining and grumbling have their roots in ingratitude. The Israelites were ungrateful. They had forgotten the sacrifice and love and concern God had shown towards them. Their ingratitude had taken root deep within their hearts, and every time they spoke it came bursting out in complaining.
When we complain we blind ourselves to all the good things around us, and what others and God have accomplished in and for us. By complaining we throw back in their faces everything they have done for us.
Complaining sends all the wrong messages and highlights the root reasons we complain of
1.Entitlement – we are ungrateful for what we have, and think we deserve more
2.Ingratitude – We don’t trust God’s or others goodness and concern for us.
If you have ever had to listen to your children or someone else grumbling and complaining you know that it can be so disappointing. Perhaps, because it is usually aimed at someone who has made so much sacrifice.
However the solution to ingratitude, and the complaining it causes is to draw attention and be thankful for the good things around us. It’s something we need to be intentional about, especially in our fast paced world where most people seem to have little time for thankfulness. Work, traffic, family, sport, appointments, and countless other things are often our main priorities instead of being thankful and showing our gratitude
So here are a few ideas to help make gratitude part of our life.
1.Thank God. When we want to grumble and complain, thank and praise God for His goodness instead. It will soon change our focus from grumbling to appreciation, and negativity to hope. We just need to practice looking for the good, instead of the bad.
2.Take time to look around and find a point of gratitude that you may otherwise have taken for granted.
3.Keep a journal or gratitude jar and note one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis.
4.Aim to give at least one compliment every day, whether directly to a person or by sharing your appreciation of something.
5.When you find yourself in a difficult situation ask: What can I learn from this? What can I be grateful for in this?
6.Practice not complaining, criticising or gossiping; Spend time with Jesus, and let His love and goodness change your focus from negativity to hope.
7.Instead of calling someone to complain about your life, use the time to talk about good things that have happened since you last spoke.
8.Be thankful for things you usually take for granted, such as your food, water, electricity, hot showers, transport etc.
Gratefulness, giving thanks and praise to God for who He is and what He has done for us are all expressions that send a message to God that resonates with who He is. It is the language of heaven. If we want to overcome the damaging power of ingratitude and complaining, then we overcome evil with good. There is always good somewhere, and no matter how dark the day seems, God is able to show His love, compassion and care for us in many ways. We just have to be on the lookout for it.
Today instead of complaining and falling into the ingratitude trap, focus on the many good things God has provided for you. As the Psalms say; “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1) It will have a positive effect not just on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health but also on all those around you.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14)
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4)
Prayer: Lord help me to have an attitude of gratitude, instead of one of complaining and entitlement. Today I want to say thank you for all that you have done for me, and how much you love me. In Jesus Name Amen.