“No, and leave me alone!”
“M-o-m, tell Kyle to give my hat back!”
“Get off me!”
Ugh. Not again. Where do these attitudes come from? Why all this discontent? Don’t my kids realize how blessed they are? They have two parents who love them, who love each other. They’re healthy. They live in a safe, peaceful community. They have a warm home, their own beds, plenty of clothes, shoes that fit, food in the fridge, clean water, electricity at the flick of a switch, shelves of books, a good education. They are among the world’s wealthiest, the world’s elite. Don’t they know that? They have freedom to worship God and attend church. They own their own Bibles. They have good doctors, and medicine whenever they need it. They don’t go to bed hungry or cold or listening to gunfire. They are so blessed!
Hmmm. Me too. It seems my children’s attitudes aren’t all that different from my own sometimes. The only real difference is that I’ve learned to hide mine behind a smiling facade, something like the garbage I set out on Thursday mornings for trash pick-up. On the outside, my garbage cans are neat, clean, tidy. Inside they are filled with stinking, rotting garbage. Concealed, hidden, but not gone.
So who’s more honest? My kids are transparent. They express what they feel. On the outside, I’m less messy, neater, tidier. Inside, I need as much growth as my kids. We’re all so much like the Old Testament Israelites. We grumble and whine and complain, too often taking for granted and ignoring the myriad blessings poured out on our lives in favor of what we think we’d rather have. God miraculously delivered the Israelites from 400 years of captivity in Egypt, led them through the desert by cloud and fire, kept their clothing and sandals intact, and promised them a new homeland flowing with milk and honey, and still they grumbled and complained, demanding what they didn’t have. Over and over God forgave their selfishness and greed, their discontent and dissatisfaction, but finally He granted them the desires of their hearts and sent leanness into their souls. Ouch! I never want to experience that kind of leanness in my soul.
I gather my kids from the far corners of the house and we talk about what it means to be blessed, how our attitudes too often don’t reflect those blessings, but rather our own selfishness and discontent, and we finish by reading Psalm 139, slowly praying through verses 23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Keep us humble and thankful, Lord, forever grateful for all you so lavishly, graciously, perfectly provide for us, your beloved children.