Is it just me, or does disappointment sometimes seem to rear its ugly head at the most illogical times? How much sense does it make to feel discontent or discouraged when you are in the middle of mounds of blessings? It sounds spoiled to say that, but I know I’m not the only one. Sometimes we tend to hyper-focus on what we wish would be and it’s hard for us to see the greatness of where we are.
We see and hear examples of this most obviously in the faces and voices of excited children at Christmas. It sounds like this: “Mama, here’s my Christmas list… make sure you get the exact ones!”, “Daddy, tell Santa I’ve been really good this year so I’ll get lots of presents”, “Tell Grandma I want the newest game station- even Jimmy doesn’t have that one!”, “What do you mean I need to use MY money to buy other people’s presents?!” During the year, we hopefully teach them not to be selfish, greedy, or materialistic, but for some reason during Christmas it becomes OK! Discontentment often starts as children and sometimes during the holidays, we unknowingly encourage it in them.
Now, before it seems like I’m picking on kids here, let’s take a look inward at some things on our own wish lists: “I can’t believe I’m still stuck with this job… I thought I’d be out by now”, “I really don’t want to spend that much money on a charity- I still have Christmas presents to buy!”, “I’ve been praying for so long, when will God actually do something with what I’ve asked?”, “Karen’s husband is so much more romantic than Bill, why couldn’t I be with someone like that?”, “If Bill’s wife can lose the baby weight, why can’t mine?! You think she’d want me to be happy with how she looks.” Sometimes our concerns are reasonable, but often they’re just complaints because we want more and think we deserve it. I’m preaching to myself here as discontentment is something I have unreasonably struggled with my whole life; specifically when it comes to my personal journey and where I think I should be vs. where God actually has me. Daily discontentment is the grown-up form of the holiday “gimmee’s” of children.
I know this all sounds a little rough for a devotion, but stick with me here, there’s a reason for the toe-stomping. Most of the time we fail to see the blessings that are all around us simply because we forget to be thankful. In my opinion, that’s really what it all boils down to. When we start feeling like we deserve things, we stop acknowledging the value of the gifts that have already been given. Pretty soon we start asking for more and more, and become less and less appreciative. Here is a secret key that I’m going to share with you this Christmas… it’s my gift to you because we ALL need it desperately in our lives. If you want to better grasp the joy of the holiday, start writing down your gifts. Not your “to-buy” gifts or your own personal “Dear Santa” wish list, but the gifts and blessings that you’ve already been given. List out and number all of the blessings that surround you and come to you everyday. There is nothing too big and nothing too small. #1. Healthy children, #2. The beautiful color of the sky today, etc. Trust me, you will be overwhelmed this Christmas with the priceless gifts God has already given and your heart will feel a contentment you may have been missing. Involve the children in this as well! A great start is to get a little notepad or journal and just start numbering… you don’t have to do it all at once but as things pop into your head, write them down- there’s even an app for that!
Let’s all try harder to be thankful this Christmas. What better way to give a gift to our Abba, then for us to be deeply grateful for the things He’s already blessed us with?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 18