This weekend we saw two major storms unleash their full fury on both sides of the globe.
Hurricane Florence ripped across the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Meanwhile on my side of the world, Typhoon Mangkhut mangled the terrain of the Northern Philippines and Hong Kong. Both storms dumped a literal ocean of water upon these unwilling landscapes.
Only time will tell the work it will take to restore these areas to some sort of normalcy.
I myself awaited the onslaught with a saddened relief; knowing that I would not be in the storm’s direct path, but realizing all-to-well that many others had no choice.
Many who were much less prepared to weather the effects of the storm… the effects that will remain long after the water has receded and green shoots once again emerge as eventualities in the tropical climate.
At times like these, I’m grateful…grateful to have electricity, running water and a firmly secured roof over head. But what about the other days of my life? Am I so willing to express gratitude when these blessings become just commonplace expectations in my everyday?
So, I went without electricity for about three hours on the morning after the storm. But, how long will the residents of the Northern Philippines have to go without it? I doubt I would feel quite so grateful if I had to change places with them.
Often, I’m guilty of expressing conditional gratitude. But, Paul reminds us to:
…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
We don’t serve a conditional God, quite to the contrary, He promises to never leave us or forsake us.
Yet, we seem so easily distracted by the crises of our everyday. Does this sound familiar?… I was in a hurry and couldn’t find a parking space close to the mall, so I had to park a “mile away”…things just didn’t line up for me today. Before I knew it, I had allowed this incident to color the rest of my day…. I was not grateful, in fact I felt resentful and just plain bothered.
Now, if this same scenario happened to me, on THIS day in light of the recent calamities that many others are enduring, I would be more likely to say, “what have I got to complain about?…so I have to walk a few more steps to the mall…right now, people are out there wading through waist-deep water!”
God doesn’t change, but often the framework of our response does. We are guilty of conditional gratitude.
What if?… We disciplined ourselves to focus on God’s unchanging face…to intentionally focus on His constant character and unfailing love despite our everyday circumstances.
What if?… We could practice a lifestyle of gratitude for the beauty of the mundane that gives us respite from tears or sleepless nights…for the blessing of minor inconveniences that can easily be chalked up to triviality if given one second’s thought?
What if?… We could just practice gratitude and thankfulness because in so doing we are pleasing God and living smack dab in the middle of his perfect will for our lives.
So, what do you choose…conditional gratitude or genuine gratitude?
Conditional gratitude fails to acknowledge that God is always loving, always seeking and always working things for the good in our lives, regardless of the conditional state of our present reality.
On the other hand, genuine gratitude finds its most sincere expression in a positive attitude and the confident assurance that God’s got your back no matter what life may bring.
God wants us to choose genuine gratitude, because he knows that our perspective ultimately colors our thoughts and our thoughts determine our behavior. Basically, we view life as brighter and full of more possibilities…it’s a win on all sides!
PS – Back to the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut (Typhoon Ondong here in the Philippines)…Pray for the northern Phillipines…they are hurting. We will be assisting in the rebuilding and repair in the coming months, feel free to contact me if you would like to help with these efforts.