You probably take your refrigerator for granted. Nothing personal. The fact is that unless you’ve grown up without electricity or have no access to cool storage, you probably grab the milk and jam without a second thought. I don’t. Anymore. Our custom fridge, designed to blend with the caramel woodgrain of our country cabinets, stopped working months ago and stands empty in our lovely, relentlessly-occupied kitchen.
My gratitude plunged on warm days when milk spoiled and cheese molded. These are the hard, cold facts. (Did you catch that pun?) We threw significant amounts of mayo and meat out this winter, due to fluctuating temperatures. With this week’s erratic weather; jacket, parka, sweater, t-shirt, all in one week, it occurred to me that we needed something in our kitchen. We have a small fridge in our utility room, which has saved our grocery budget from total ruin, but we needed something in the kitchen. My house was never intended to be a large-scale, relentless stair master every time someone wanted to open the fridge and peek.
In a season, my grumbling over a broken fridge transformed into actual joy over a dorm fridge!
I don’t know how long we’ll have to wait to have the luxury of floor-to-ceiling refrigeration in our kitchen. But God used this whole scenario to change my heart. I look back at those first weeks of bags of spoiled food in the garbage and the complaints and “woe-is-me” self-pity that came from my mouth and I now shudder. The Lord giveth and He taketh away. An inconvenience that permeates each day can really irritate a person. Over this season I’ve learned that God can use these things to change our perspective and remind us just how good He has always been to us.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 has become real to me. It says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thankful in a car accident? Thankful in pain? Thankful in the waiting? Yes. In all things. Not for all things. Paul’s implication is that each of us would find ourselves in situations that would challenge our stance of gratitude toward our Father. Seize those moments, he admonishes. God’s will is that we be thankful, always, regardless of what happens around us, whatever muck we may be standing in.
Thankfulness isn’t acceptance. These verses tell us to rejoice and pray in the same sentence that tells us to give thanks. These three things, rejoicing, praying and thanking, are all tools that release God’s best. They change our hearts and defeat discouragement. When we come before God with joy, despite circumstances, prayer in faith that He is hearing our cries and requests, and thankfulness, regardless of what we see in the hear-and-now, we are positioned to be trusted with the more that He has for us. (See Luke 16:10)
Entitlement is one of the sins that few people dismiss in a cultural that dismisses many of the 10 Commandments.
Sometimes God gives us less than we want and we tantrum, if not verbally, then in our pouting hearts. He promises to meet our needs; “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). He does. We know that. It’s the wanting what’s out of reach that steals our contentment, and erodes our gratitude for what we do have.
Contentment has nothing to do with circumstances!
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Grabbing candy isn’t Jesus’ style.
Satisfaction comes when we accept what God has given us, pray for the desires of our hearts that have yet been realized, and thank Him generously for all He is and does and will do. You make a choice with every thought. You can be thankful for what was, is and is to come, or scowl at what wasn’t and is not yet. We can compare ourselves with others who seem to have more, or hit away thoughts of privilege and entitlement, choosing instead to be grateful. Will the delivery man be baffled if I high-five him when he sets down my mini-fridge next to my majestic, albeit useless one? Probably. But God will get the glory, because He is so, so good!