Ever have one of those days when you are cranky -- miserably cranky? A day when nothing makes you happy... not worship, or a leisurely walk on a beautiful breezy morning, or even a nap? Today has been one of those days for me and nothing -- NOTHING -- has helped. Usually when my attitude turns sour I can turn on a little praise music and enter into a litany of thanksgiving for all the blessings I DO have. But today that hasn't cured my crankiness.
Scripture tells us that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6, NIV). I have a daily quiet time, attend weekly worship, give generously, and do all I can to walk in obedience to God's word. Though not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I do strive to live a godly life. But that's only half the equation. What about contentment?
Paul, though persecuted, imprisoned, and subject to all manner of suffering, seems to have mastered contentment. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13). If I am a surrendered believer yet still struggle with contentment -- or at least with being cranky on occasion -- does that make me less a Christian?
When I am cranky I want to isolate myself from those around me because I know that nothing positive is going to come out of my mouth. Every word will be nagging and nit-picky. The tension becomes more than I can bear. Sometimes my attitude, if it is driven by fatigue, can be greatly helped with a nap and a re-boot of my day. But when it can't....
What even makes us cranky in the first place? What causes us to complain and criticize when most of us are blessed beyond measure? Perhaps these verses from James 4:1-3 may shed a little light: "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." Hmmm.
Lately I have been praying big prayers, looking to God for provision and big answers, and wondering why he has been silent. I have had a running conversation with him about his will over mine, and with myself about the possibility that the two might be in conflict. Lord, I hope my prayer is in line with your will. I feel caught somewhere between faith and unbelief -- between dreaming of what could be and the reality that the present might be all there is for now. Here's the bottom line: if my prayers are in line with God's will, then no amount of fretting will usher in his answer and provision before the appointed time.
Jesus knows that stressing over the details of life can make us all a little cranky at times, and mercifully he forgives us when we allow our preoccupation with worldly cares to steal our joy. In Matthew 6:33-34, he gently reminds us to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
If there is one thing I have learned, God truly is able to handle the details of our lives with little help from us. He is working behind the scenes in ways we cannot see, making a way for his will to be accomplished, even when we are not sure what his perfect plan is. He wants to bless his children, even if that means his "no" is our greater "yes." The question is, do we really trust him to do what is best for us?
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