As we close on 2016, I’ve been awash with the past. Reflecting on it has made me think about my father, and a life lesson he instilled in me: “I get to be grateful.”
Several years ago, he lost his job. When he and my mom moved back home, my father couldn’t get a job in his field. He was able to find work a place that manufactures different products for oil companies. This was worlds different from working in a hospital setting, with air conditioning and what he liked to call “wearing jammies” to work. It had nothing to do with his degree field, and it was less than half of what he made in his previous job. Yet, he always told me:
“I get to be grateful.”
He was thankful for a job—any job. While many others would feel such a position was “beneath them” or not “paying them what they are worth,” my pops would “suit up and show up.” He never once complained about the physical taxation the manual labor had on his almost 60-year-old body. He never griped about long hours, or that the pay was laughable.
I asked him one day, how that made him feel.
He told me something I will never forget:
“Always, we get to remember who our source is. Anything we get to walk through, we are not alone. It’s so easy to be grateful when things are groovy. Unapproved stuff, we get to be grateful for too, because He is our strength. ”
This perspective blew my mind; how in the world can someone actually be grateful for a downgrade? I mean, think about this—how many times have you been grateful that:
- You didn’t get a raise you’d been hoping for?
- Your business fails and you lose everything?
- You get in a car accident?
- You have a falling out with a loved one?
- You experience the death of a loved one?
- You are dealt with a chronic illness?
- Your spouse is having an affair?
- Your home gets vandalized?
- A relative gets cancer?
- You get cancer?
This list unfortunately, can go on and on. I don’t know about you, but I the last thing I would be is “grateful” for these terrible circumstances.
Yet, in this I realized where his gratitude stemmed from—it came from the Lord.
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. – Colossians 3:17
My father’s work ethic didn’t change whether he was making $40 an hour or $14. Whatever he put his hand to, he did with vigor and a tangible sense of thankfulness to God, and not to the situation he was in. His gratitude didn’t waver when he was diagnosed with the beginnings of bladder cancer last year. In every season, he had the opportunity to be grateful; I’ve never thought about “getting” to be grateful in this way before I experienced my father live it out first hand.
Brothers and sisters, we can CHOOSE to be grateful for hardships. For things that aren’t (insert your name here) approved. Why? Because:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
Your practical application this week? Being grateful for things that aren’t “approved.” When someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of that loving hand gesture we are all quick to sling, thank the Lord for that driver. Begin to pray over their day. I promise you, the metamorphosis in your heart and your spirit will be profound.
Always realize and understand this: my pops doesn’t do this of his own will power and strength and nor can you; we rely completely on the life of Christ, expressed in those moments of strife.
If you do begin to implement this mindset, please share your experience with it. I’d love to hear your feedback.