Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: discontent

The folly of fashion

Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.
-George Santayana

If wishes were horses . . .

If wishes were horse, I would be in Edmonton with my wife instead of here at home looking after our three cats and trying to keep earning some money. But I supported my wife in leaving on this little one week adventure to help her elderly cousin and visit some of the people we know, so I will make the best of things here at home.

And I do get to do some interesting things. Tonight was the humorous speech competition at Toastmasters. I won, which means that I will need to deliver that speech in a few weeks at the district level. I wasn’t counting on that, but I guess I can do that, too.

If wishes were horses . . .  Some people seem to spend their whole life wishing things were different, wishing that other people would treat them better, wishing for better living conditions, wishing for all the fun and enjoyment that other people appear to be getting out of life, but which always seem beyond their grasp.

One of the people Chris wants to visit in Edmonton is Rose, the 90 year old widow of my cousin Ron. Rose never appears to waste time wishing things could be better. I don’t think she believes life could get any better. She is thankful for everything and everyone in her life. She is not really well-to-do, but she has all she needs and wants no more. She spends a lot of time on the phone talking with family and friends, and many of those friends go back a long time.

Ron and Rose had been married for almost 65 years when Ron passed away two years ago at the age of 91. The parting was difficult, yet welcome as Ron had so much pain in the last few years of his life. He never complained either, he was the favourite of the nurses in the home where he spent the last couple years of his life, as he was so thankful for every little thing they did.

What makes the difference? Ron and Rose were never difficult people, but they were not always as contented and happy as they were in the later years of their life. They were always church-going people, but they didn’t get converted until they were about 70. Knowing God, His forgiveness, His peace had a transforming power in their lives.

When our hopes are set on earthly things, we will always be disappointed. When we set our hopes on things that are heavenly and eternal,  we receive far beyond what we deserve or could ever wish for.

But rather giving of thanks

In Ephesians 5:4, the apostle Paul names a number of things that should not come out of a Christian’s mouth, then adds: “but rather giving of thanks.” How easy it is to forget that. In my last blog post, I mentioned the things that were stolen from us one evening almost twenty years ago. But the thief missed something – in one of the top dresser drawers there was an envelope containing several hundred US dollars. Two days later we left on a planned trip to Pennsylvania and we got to spend that money, not the thief.

Did I thank God for that blessing? I think I did, but I’ll have to admit that thankfulness doesn’t enter my mind as readily as it should. We experience so many little blessings. They seem like coincidences, but are they really? If they were only coincidences the results would be as often negative as positive. When so many little things happen that are positive, there must be an unseen hand behind it all.

I would naturally like God to do big things for me, provide instant answers to my problems. But wouldn’t that lead to confusion about who is the master and who is the servant in our relationship? If I choose to be patiently obedient, the little things do add up to something very big. I want to remember to thank God for every little thing that He does for me.

Someone who is not satisfied unless things go just right spreads discontent everywhere he goes. We are continually being told that we should not be satisfied, we are victims, everything around is going wrong. And so it seems. But joining the mass movement of discontent will not make things better. Those who are determined to be unhappy will be unhappy still.

What would our world be like if there was a movement of people determined to be happy? People who saw little acts of kindness about them and spoke their appreciation? People who woke up each morning thankful to be alive and have another day to serve the God who has planned good things for them? Giving thanks for the good we see enables us to see how much good there really is, and our thankfulness can be just as contagious as someone else’s complaining.

And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small — Jeremiah 30:19.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore — Psalm 16:11

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