Grumbling or Gratitude? What is your heart full of?
The past couple weeks have felt pretty grumble worthy. But if I’m honest, every week could be grumble worthy for one reason or another. For me, grumbling comes easy. Gratitude, not so much.
In this season of cancelled plans, uncertainty, and dashed hopes and expectations, I’ve been reminded of a passage from a book I read a few years ago:
“Grumbling and blaming are the fruit of the sick roots in our hearts, and the evidence of decay is revealed in our words. The call to gratitude is the invitation to a life of tending and guarding the inner gardens of our hearts remembering that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34). Whether we are thankful does not depend on our circumstances, but on our hearts.” – Joshua Choonmin Kang, Spirituality of Gratitude
Now luckily, I can’t playback everything I’ve said over the past two weeks, but I don’t need a recording to know that my words have been filled with annoyance, sadness, disappointment, frustration, and anger. I’ve spent far too much time reading news articles about coronavirus, scrolling social media, and having worried conversations with friends and co-workers and far too little time in God’s word. My heart has been full of the words of people rather than the words of God.
And it’s God’s word that would have reminded me that God is sovereign, He’s in control, He loves His people no matter what. So, here’s a reminder for me (and you), when you’re worried, just pause and say a quick prayer to God.
I’m not thankful for coronavirus, but I am thankful that God is sovereign. I’m thankful that God has gifted his people with creativity and for the ways we’re able to stay connected during social distancing. I’m thankful for the blooming flowers, nicer weather, and the ability to go outside.
For the next few weeks I’m going to be practicing the spiritual discipline of gratitude. If you want to join me here are a few things you could try:
– List 3 things you’re grateful for every day.
– Think of someone you’re grateful for. Write that person a letter (approx. 300 words), let them know why you’re grateful, and send it. Or call that person and read the letter to them. See what happens. Reflect on what the process was like and what you’re learning about yourself and God
– Spend some time outside. Thank God for the beauty of His creation.
As an example of a short gratitude letter, the following is my letter to RCC:
Dear Rochester Christian Church,
Thank you for your faithfulness to love and serve God and the people in and around Rochester. I’m always amazed by how quickly the church community comes together to help care for those in need.
I’m grateful for the many people who have spent countless hours showing me and my family the love of Christ (making food, cleaning, preparing bible studies, putting up with me as a child/teenager) and guiding me in my decision to follow Him many years ago. I didn’t fully appreciate all the biblical knowledge I was gaining on Sunday mornings and youth group then, but I do now.
I’m thankful for all the church staff and volunteers and the work you do behind the scenes. Thanks for all the thought that’s put into sermon series, events, outreach, missions, building maintenance, and the countless other things that need to be attended to.
I’m thankful for your commitment to pray for and support missions both locally and abroad and providing the opportunities to serve in both local and global missions. Missions trips were very transformative moments in my life and helped shaped my ability to live out my faith in college and beyond.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers for the ministry of InterVarsity at Southern Illinois University, especially during this time as our student leaders are learning to lead online bible studies. I say it all the time, but it’s true, without people like you the ministry simply wouldn’t be possible.
Mari Chimitris – Campus Staff Minister, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Southern Illinois University Carbondale