Thursday, October 4, 2012
1/2 marathon Challenge, Day 4
Yesterday I used Phillipians 4:6-8 to illustrate our need to lay our concerns at the feet of God, and not rely on our own strength or wisdom to enact change in our lives and our marriages. I will point out another aspect to that scripture today: Worry about nothing, but in everything with thanksgiving and supplication give your concerns to God Thanksgiving. We have a national holiday dedicated to the idea. When we say grace over our dinner tables we express it. I have been known to exclaim “Thank GOD’ when i get a piece of unexpected good news. The idea of giving thanks is bandied about so much I think that often, it is nothing more than window dressing instead of a substantial part of our lives. We say thanks or express it so we don’t seem ungrateful, or because we know in our heads that we should be thankful, but we don’t feel it in our hearts. We are extolled throughout the old and new testaments to give thanks to our Creator, but do we? Good things we have are often taken for granted, and our society seems Hell bent to make sure we are focused on what we lack. Ads blare at us about what’s new, bigger and better. And the things that go wrong, our problems, people in our lives that annoy us? We gripe and complain and moan, praying to God to deliver us from it all, as if he were a genie granting us wishes. In terms of marriage, we overlook the things our spouses do well, telling ourselves that that’s what they are supposed to do, and we nag and prod them about all the ways they could improve or treat us better. We subtle barbs and knifing stares and lay on guilt to get our way... but what if, instead, we thanked God for our spouses, and our lives, JUST AS THEY ARE? There’s an old Jewish anecdote. A man goes to his rabbi, and says “Rabbi, what would God have me do? How would he have me act?” The older man says “When things are bad, pray. When things are good, give thanks.” The younger man thinks and then asks “How am I to know what is good, and what is bad?” The rabbi answers, “Excellent question. In that case, give thanks always.” God knows what He has created us for. He knows what we are supposed to be, and what job to further his kingdom we are to do. It stands to reason that he also knows how to equip us for that job, how to prepare us. The hard times we go through in our lives, the difficulties we face are there to prepare us uniquely for the tasks he has set out for us. Our marriages are no different - except perhaps more so. Marriage is a crucible we are placed in with the goal not to make us happy (though done right, that is a wonderful side effect!) but to make us holy. As we deal with our spouses, we must act with grace and forgiveness if we want the same treatment, and we wind up acting more and more like Christ as we do so. So give thanks for all you have. Give thanks for the troubles you are facing and the hardships you endure. And give thanks for your spouse - just as they are - for they are the stone upon which you are being sharpened.