Much of what I usually choose to write and speak about centers around some aspect of Godly character. Today is no different. Today I want to talk with you about a character trait I believe is critical to the development of Godly character. Today let’s talk about thankfulness.
So many people today feel entitled rather than thankful. In fact, in the December 12, 2013 edition of USA today there appears an interesting story. A sixteen-year-old boy was arrested and accused of killing four pedestrians while he was driving drunk. His defense? Affluence. Here is how Dr. Gary Buffone, a psychologist, describes this term. This term is used to describe a condition in which children — generally from richer families — have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, [and] make excuses for poor behavior… This young man was hoping to receive a lighter punishment because he was so accustomed to doing whatever he pleased that he should not be held accountable for making a poor choice.
Let me contrast this story with that of the life of Abigail Smith. Abigail was a twenty-four year old young woman who, in 2012, was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. When her doctor gave her the news, he said this, Everyone is dealt a deck of cards. We don’t get to choose the cards, but we do get to choose how we play them. We can either be bitter or thankful. Abby chose thankfulness. She underwent surgery and thirty-seven radiation treatments. Eventually, there was nothing else that could medically stop the cancer from spreading. Abigail was going to die.
You might think that Abigail became bitter or lived hoping for a miracle but here is what Abigail said, Miracles are a temporary fix. They are only a shadow of things to come. I don’t need a miracle to know that God loves me. In a video that documents Abigail’s story, she said, Live one day at a time and live each day to the fullest. Then she said thank you to those who were involved in her life. Abigail chose to be thankful despite living through a year of pain and suffering. Abigail died in December of 2013 still thankful for a remarkable life, for family, friends, and a God who loved her.
So we have a choice. Live suffering from affluence or live joyfully with thanksgiving. I hope you choose thankfulness.
We live in a world where most people expect things right away. We have microwaves that make our meals in only a few minutes. We enjoy fast food, express lanes in the grocery store, instant streaming of movies, we have instant foods ranging from instant coffee to instant rice. We become frustrated when life isn’t so instant and we find ourselves in a traffic jam, delayed by road construction, waiting for a table at a restaurant or waiting in a doctor’s office. I wonder if we have forgotten a very important element of Godly character. What is it? It’s patience, which the dictionary defines as, the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
In Acts, chapter 7, we are reminded of the story of Moses. At one point Moses killed an Egyptian who was mistreating an Israelite. Moses fled the country and lived in the land of Midian. Now…watch verse 30. Here’s the first sentence: Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush.
Most of us focus on that miracle in the burning bush but miss the first part of the sentence. Moses waited forty years between the time he left Egypt to the time we next learn of God speaking to him. Don’t you just wonder if Moses questioned for those forty years whether God would ever use him after killing the Egyptian? There was nothing instant in this for Moses. Even after his experience with the burning bush and being placed in leadership of the Israelites, Moses wandered in the wilderness with his people for another forty years.
Eighty years waiting upon God had to be a refining time for Moses to develop patience. There is no mention in scripture that Moses tried to hurry God along during these eighty years. Moses simply did what God asked him to do. No pushing, no complaining, just dealing with the issues in life as they came up. Moses had patience that comes only through trusting God.
So what does this mean for us today? Let’s take some time and simply trust God and by doing so develop patience. Let’s stop pushing God, begging for an instant answer to our prayers and understand that God doesn’t reveal all things to us instantly. We don’t need to always be in control. Relax and allow God to develop more patience in you. You will become a better spouse, employee, church member, friend, and community member. Enjoy your relationship with God as a home cooked meal…not as a bowl of instant soup.