11 Mar

I love Al Sanders’ story about the cantankerous man whose wife could never seem to please him. Frowning Eggs

“No matter how bright and cheery she tried to make each new day’s outlook, her husband was always dour and cranky. It is hard to imagine how this gracious woman continued to put up with her crabby mate.

“But she was determined to make a difference. She worked constantly to make the grouchy man happy…

“One morning she pertly asked, ‘What can I fix you for breakfast, dear?’

“He grumbled with his usual sour-and-sullen disposition, ‘Gimme two eggs; scramble one, and fry the other sunny-side up.’

“Humming busily through her task, she carefully followed his instructions. Before long she set the attractive plate in front of him. Just as he had ordered, there was a scrambled egg and a fried one, sunny-side up. But the griper wasn’t happy. The wife, completely crestfallen and confused, asked earnestly, ‘What’s wrong? Isn’t this what you asked me to fix?’

“He complained disapprovingly, ‘Of course not! You scrambled the wrong egg!'” *

Know people  like that? They grumble and complain and gripe and make everyone around them uncomfortable. When I worked full-time for a Christian newspaper, the publisher’s office was in his home. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a wooden, carved sign posted above the kitchen doorway. It said, Kwitcherbellyakin. It spoke to me several times when I worked there.

Sometimes people in ministry leadership are reticent to “fess up” to weaknesses. I (Dawn) love it when they get real so we can learn from them.

Barbara Rainey (of FamilyLife Today ministries) expressed with refreshing honesty: “I confess I still complain far too often about far too much.” **

But Barbara also understands what it takes to put off a  griping spirit and put on a grateful one. “The saying that was popular in the early 70s, ‘no matter how hard it gets, I won’t complain’ is sadly not heard at all today,” she said, “But when I do focus on God’s great goodness, gratitude is a natural response. Giving thanks is a daily discipline that I’m working to cultivate.”

God command gratitude, and we need it, she says. “Gratitude takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them back on the giver of all good things, even those things we perceive as bad or unpleasant.” I try to remember that when I grumble, I’m really grumbling against the Lord (Exodus 16:7-8). We are  to “Do all things without grumbling and complaining and faultfinding and complaining [against God]” Philippians 2:14 (Amplified)

We have so much in America (just check statistics on storage units!) ~ and yet we are so self-absorbed and discontent and ungrateful. The rich  indulge themselves and the poor have a sense of entitlement. Gratitude is a discipline we need to develop;  it doesn’t come naturally. We’re gripers by nature. But it’s necessary, Barbara says, “if we are to please God and make any kind of impact on our culture.”

That’s something we don’t think about too often. We think about the need for thankful hearts for our own benefit, or to honor God. But there’s a watching world that needs to see what gratitude looks like. Barbara calls gratitude “the doorway by which even unbelievers cope with the fragility of life, because it acknowledges faith in the one who rules.”

Gratitude is the will of God for us, and it is a blessed choice (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Timothy 6:6). Let’s choose it today.

* Al Sanders, I’m Trying to Number My Days, But I Keep Losing Count (Waterbrook Press, 1998, p. 55)

** Interview with Barbra Rainey, Revive Our Hearts.


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