In my all-too-brief(-so-far) lifetime, I have found much to complain about. It seems like everywhere I go, there’s something that isn’t the way I want it.
I was speaking with a colleague in our kitchen once, and asked how she got on, traveling more than we do. Her answer was short and simple: she has different things she enjoys in each place she goes, and she focuses on enjoying what is there, in whatever place she happens to be (trust me, her words were simpler than that, but this is me writing now… :-)).
So I was thinking about this this morning, as I looked out at the most amazing sunset I can recall (above). The fact that I noted it is itself notable; I’m sure it looks even better from non-colorblind eyes, but it was enough to impress me, in any case.
Having spent much of last week in the Pacific Northwest, walking in the rain through wet leaves that have been decomposing on the ground for weeks (at least), we returned to Texas to see most of the leaves blown off the trees in our area in a single gusty day —and continue to blow in the wind like driven snow. But I think each has its beauty, if you look for it. The PacNW soft earth that your feet sink into, reminiscent of a mud ball that just happens to have a thick head of green hair, is nothing like the dry clay of North Texas, which opens cracks greater than an inch, then fills up in a heavy rain until it floods again and again.…
Anyway, I thought I should stop my complaining (if only for a moment) and give God glory for the beauty he has brought into our lives.
And with that perspective, I recall that there is a much better reason to rejoice in all circumstances. Paul once wrote of his contentment in the face of financial need:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)
Somewhat ironic to think of hunger, when my greater complaints are expensive avocados and mangos (which could also double as rocks, some times), or not being able to find meat that doesn’t have flies all over it in the market (I’ll let you guess which complaint belongs to which place).
As I think through this verse, I think what Paul is saying is that his contentment doesn’t come from having enough food, or the kinds of food he likes, nor even having beautiful sunsets in one place and beautiful local music in another. Paul’s contentment comes because Jesus is the source of his life and happiness, and Jesus never leaves us.
Think about it — if I’m not happy because I have food, clothing and shelter that I like, but rather because the Creator of the universe is on my side (or rather has made me on His side), then my happiness that cannot be taken from me, whatever my circumstance.
Do I really get, on a daily and momentary basis, that my sins (real as they are) have been washed clean, and that I have relationship with God, not because I earned it, but just because He is that good?
Jesus took the worst day in all human history, and made it *Good* Friday, because on that day He gave us the greatest good we will ever know. Then He proved it three days later, in case there was any question that our fight with sin and death was finished. How can we not want that to be the center of our life, love, and happiness?