Written by: Joe Cameneti, Jr.
A few years back, I have a vivid memory of throwing myself a giant “pity party.” You know the one. The WORST kind of party. The kind where there are no gifts or streamers or cake. No one else was invited. It was just me, alone with my sad, pitiful thoughts. Why the pity party? Well, I was looking at my life, and I couldn’t escape the feeling that everything and everyone was against me. I felt like I had been putting out fires left and right with no sign of relief. As soon as one problem was solved, another two would spring up in its place. Can you relate??
As I was quietly praying (maybe “griping” is a better word) listing my problems and lodging my complaints with God,I had a realization. It came in the form of a gentle whisper, a reply from God in five simple words. “You prayed for these problems.” I thought about it, and the cutting truth of the statement began to sink in. God was right. In fact, many of today’s problems are the answers to yesterday’s prayers.
Parents, have you ever complained about the crying baby and lack of sleep, only to be gently reminded by God that you lost sleep for years as you laid awake begging God for that very baby in the next room? You prayed for that problem!
Do you ever find yourself frustrated with the relationships in your life? Navigating conflict with those closest to you, only to remember the countless moments that you prayed for God to bless you with a friend to fight with? You prayed for that problem. That Spouse who leaves the toilet seat up, who forgets to put the clothes in the hamper or nags you. Yep, you prayed for that problem too!
Sometimes people ask me if it’s tough being a pastor. After all, we spend much of our time listening to people’s problems and walking them through challenging situations. The honest answer is this. I prayed for the privilege to help people through these very problems.
Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the ox.”
Here’s what Proverbs 14 is saying. Without a baby, the crib is clean, but your heart is empty. No poopy diapers, but no baby giggles. No new adventures as they cross each milestone of growth!
I’m convinced that gratitude has less to do with our circumstance, and way more to do with what we choose to see. In other words, thankfulness is all about the way that we choose to think. It’s all about perspective. My hope for you this holiday season is that you learn to see the “problems” in your life from a new point of view. I believe there is a deep well of joy and contentment that comes when we do.