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‘Bad Day’? It’s a Matter of Perspective.

24 Sep

I’m always surprised by how people define “bad day.” For many, a “bad day” is when:

  • You can’t find earrings at Charming Charlie’s to match your dress for caution-baddayinprogress_lolwithgod_dawnwilsona birthday party. (This almost never happens because that store is amazing!)
  • You break a fingernail, right after getting a professional manicure.
  • You can’t find a parking space a few paces away from Home Depot’s front door.
  • You discover someone ate the last chocolate chip cookie in the bag … which you carefully hid.

Really?

OK. This isn’t going to be an especially lighthearted post. But I thought about this topic after I got upset looking for that aforementioned parking space. God really spoke to my heart that day. Broke it, actually.

THESE are the kinds of real-life “bad day” issues that lead to REAL frustration or fear:

  • You can’t find your child at the mall for more than 60 minutes.
  • Your husband loses his job. Again.
  • Your cancer returns. With a vengeance.
  • Your home is burglarized, your house ransacked and you discover many treasures are missing.

And then there are “bad days” most of us will never have to face.

  • Total rejection: A woman who cannot find a job because no one in her village will hire a “Christ-follower.”
  • Horrific persecution: A pastor whose leg is broken during torture in Laos because he dared to preach the gospel.
  • Unspeakable pain: A mother who weeps because her daughter was raped because the family converted to Christianity.

A bad day is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

There’s simply no comparison between the first group and the last.

We can view the circumstances in our lives in multiple ways, and how we view them affects how we feel and respond.

One of the best ways to view circumstances—especially the tough ones (because really, with the absurd ones we just need to grow up!)—is through the lenses of trust and gratitude.

Trust when you feel abandoned? Gratitude when a crisis comes?

Stay with me here ….

There is great power in trusting God; and there is great transformation in a thankful heart.

For the Christian, there may be many bad days, even awful-horrible days; but there is more to life than even these circumstances. In the midst of great upheaval and struggle:

  • We can trust the Lord when we are afraid, and be grateful that most of the things we most fear never even happen.
  • We can trust the Lord for what we don’t understand, with gratitude that He is never perplexed and always has a plan.
  • We can trust the Lord with an uncertain future, gratefully acknowledging He will be in our future as assuredly as He has in the past.
  • We can trust the Lord to care for us, grateful for His endless resources and loving supply.
  • And we can trust the Lord when life falls apart—when we suffer incredible loss or pain—still grateful He is sovereign and will yet accomplish His will in, for and through us.

Granted, this is easier said than done. But daily practice is good heart preparation.

When we practice trust and gratitude in the simple, everyday circumstances of our lives, these habits will strengthen us when the bigger challenges and unexpected trials come.

In wisdom, we exercise our trust and gratitude “muscles,” and God (because He cares about us) wants to help us with that. As Matthew Henry wrote,*

Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God’s love….”

Believe me. I am not taking on this topic lightly.

I love and pray for The Persecuted Church and have found both conviction and great strength in the stories of God’s struggling children around the world. These believers “count it all joy” when they face trials of various kinds (James 1:2-8). Many rejoice and even celebrate, knowing God is working and they will receive great reward for any sufferings they face (Matthew 5:12; Romans 5:3; James 1:12).

How can they do this? They’ve counted the cost of following Christ and partaking in HIS sufferings (Luke 14:25-33; 1 Peter 4:13-16). They’ve  found God’s grace sufficient and strengthening in their greatest times of need (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

When asked how we can pray for them, members of The Persecuted Church usually do not ask people to pray their burdens will be lightened, but rather that they will be wise to make good use of their afflictions—especially to be a strong witness to those who observe how they are suffering for Christ.

In cushy America, our concept of suffering for the Lord is so skewed. We’re constantly praying for “safety,” but not for opportunities to share Christ. Amy Carmichael wrote, “We must learn to pray far more for spiritual victory than for protection from battle wounds.”

So convicting. Especially when I lament over a broken fingernail or empty cookie bag.

It puts our petty “bad days” to shame, doesn’t it?

Are you having a bad day today? How might more trust in the Lord coupled with the practice of gratitude help your perspective … and ultimately, your responses?

 – Dawn

 * Matthew Henry, Commentary on James 1:1-22.

 

 

 

 

 

The Gratitude Tour

20 Nov

It’s hard to be grateful for some things. Ever burn the Thanksgiving Turkey?

BurnedTurkeyHere are some reasons you might choose to be thankful anyway:

1. Everyone might think your turkey is Cajun blackened.
2. Your cheese broccoli Lima bean casserole will gain new-found appreciation.
3. No one will overeat.
4. You’ll get to the desserts even quicker.
5. The guys can take the bird to the back yard to play football.
6. You won’t have to face three weeks of turkey sandwiches. *

Oh that we might learn to choose gratitude.

I had a vivid dream one Saturday morning. God teaches me many lessons in my dreams. He uses scriptures I’ve memorized and events in my life and draws pictures to help me learn. Let me share my dream. (Note: in my dream I just saw the people … names and countries were added for this account.)

I heard a voice – “Let me take you on a little tour of your home.”

We started in the kitchen. I turned on the faucet and clean water gushed out. “Little Farhan in Sudan has no clean water,” the voice said.

I opened my cupboard, full of food, then moved to the dining room to eat a hearty breakfast. “Elda in Ethiopia is starving this morning … and Peggy just came off the street in your own hometown. She’s at the Salvation Army kitchen today.”

I sat down in the comfort of my living room to relax from the workweek. “Bill is still out of work, desperate for a job. He’s living in his car.”

I spent some time at my computer, surrounded by technology. “Alma went to the library today, using the community computer.”

I visited my bathroom. “Panjak in India has a mobile phone, but no toilet in his home.”

I hopped in my air conditioned car to go on errands. “Sumi in Bangladesh has blisters on her feet, walking everywhere in the hot sun.”

As nightfall came, I curled up on my Sleep Number bed. “Neela in Nairobi sleeps on the hard ground in a shack,” the voice said.

I read my Bible before bedtime. “Bingwen in China has only one page from a shared Bible … and he worships in a secret church.”

I woke from my dream in tears. It is far too easy to forget I have so much.

Please understand. I didn’t feel guilty for having all these things. I know that all good gifts come from God (James 1:17).

But I think I understand why God might have given me the dream on that Saturday morning.

He wanted to teach me some things:

  1. Be thankful for the good things you have. (Psalm 100:4b-5)
  2. Be thankful even when hard times come. (Ephesians 5:201 Thessalonians 5:18)
  3. Be aware and sensitive to the pain in the world – not self-absorbed, not turning your back on others’  suffering, but loving people sincerely with Jesus’ love. (Mark 12:31; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4)
  4. Share what you have; be a good steward of all you possess. (Proverbs 14:31; 19:17; 22:9; Matthew 5:42; 25:35-40; Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17-18).

I invite you to take a tour of your own home. Do it today … or soon.

  • Fully appreciate what you have. “Thank you, Lord, for this …. and that … and this … and that…..”
  • Relax. Don’t feel guilty about your blessings from God. Just observe … be grateful.
  • As you consider each possession – each gift from God – take time to pray for those who struggle. Remember, especially, the people you know … pray and ask God to meet their needs.
  • Ask the Lord, “How do you want me to use my possessions for Your glory.” (Note: you may be the answer to the prayer you just prayed!)
  • Don’t rush away … Listen. And obey.

Living in gratitude – especially, being grateful for all we have and are in Christ – is one way to live “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-12).

Make the daily choice to express gratitude for all your blessings, and even those tough things … like a Crispy Critter Turkey. Or at least thank God for the lessons you can learn or choices you can make.

Let me know when you take your own Gratitude Tour.

    – Dawn Wilson

*http://www.humormatters.com/holidays/Thanksgiving/turkeyburnt.htm

LINKED TO:  Raising Homemakers

Four Thanksgiving Lessons

18 Nov

As was their tradition, before they ate their holiday meal, Dad read the story of Thanksgiving and how the Indians and the Pilgrims sat down together for a meal. After the story, little Teddy climbed up into his father’s lap.

“Daddy,” Teddy said, “did you know that if we were Indians, you would be a brave and Mom would be a squawk?”

“Son, that is the best description of your mother I have ever heard,” his daddy replied … as he ducked.

As I think about Thanksgiving, and how everyone seems to want the turkey leg, I’m amazed that no one wants to eat a flamingo for Thanksgiving… have you seen those long legs? (Granted, not much meat.)

The story of the first Thanksgiving is controversial, depending on who you talk to and what books you read. Squanto and the Indians of the Wampanoag tribe helped the Pilgrims survive when they were poor and hungry, many dying from disease; and some believe their kindness was not appreciated and repaid because the Indians were “heathens.” 

As I think about this Thanksgiving, I am taking some lessons from my research on this holiday:

Lesson 1 – God takes note not only of what we have, but what we share. We all have a choice about who we will help and encourage. Thanksgiving is a time to examine our hearts, to look at our abundance, and ask God what He wants us to offer to others.

Lesson 2 – We need to remember those who have shared of their time and resources with us, and be careful to express our gratitude. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to tell people why we are thankful for them and what they have done ~ buy a box of thank you notes and get writing!

Lesson 3 – We need to be sure that we see the kindnesses we have received from others outside our faith. Our response is noted. We need to be sure we respond as Christ would ~ offering gratitude and love. (Remember the story of The Good Samaritan? It was the unlikely man who offered help!) If we ever hope to have an audience to share the love of God with those who do not know Him, we need to be sure we are practicing basic good manners and kindness. We should always do the honorable thing.

Lesson 4 – We need to focus on the Blesser ~ God Himself ~ not only the many blessings He gives.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

– Dawn

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