As Wednesday night church service began last night, I was feeling irritable. My day at that moment felt overpowered by the negativity of one individual who insists every time she sees me on sharing her woe-is-me stories about how terrible her life is, and turning everything positive I say into something negative. I’m not talking about someone who has experienced a recent tragedy; I mean someone who even if she won a million dollars would still find something wrong with it in some form or fashion.
We usually take a few minutes before the message to share prayer requests, or share reports of how God has answered prayers that week. During our prayer, I remember saying to God, “Okay, I know you want me to love this woman. I really do. But I’m sorry, I just don’t have it in me. I need Your help because in and of myself I can’t do it.” I also asked Him to help me focus on the service, so livid and annoyed was I still.
When the pastor began to speak, he asked us to open up our Bibles to one of the Psalms. I can’t remember which book we were in, but I remember it was something similar to Psalm 111:1, “Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.” We talked about the importance of talking about the good things, and being grateful for the blessings God has given us, even in the midst of turmoil.
Then the pastor said, “Do you have anyone in your life that is just negative all the time? That no matter what, they’ll find something to complain about? I do. I just call them my ‘Negative Person’.”
I smiled, and then started to laugh. It’s clear to me that God has a sense of humor. Not only did the message get my mind off of being irritated, I was able to laugh and thank Him for lightening things up for me in that moment.
Even today, I’m still thinking about that message, and wondering if sometimes I come across as a complainer. What am I talking about? I started today’s post out by complaining about a chronic complainer, didn’t I? I am by and large an optimist, but I do catch myself griping about the weather, griping about the messes my kids make, grumbling about the traffic or the people on the road who need to learn how to use turn signals. (Especially during a certain time of the month, because during those times I will bite your head off – just give me Reese’s though and we’re all good).
Yet for all of that and even when people drive me bonkers and even in the midst of tragedy, and even with all of the negative news, God is still faithful and He is still good. Many things I don’t understand, but I believe that.
I’ll tell you another story that my husband told me the other day. He said that he went to lunch at a fast food place, and while waiting for his order, realized they gave him back too much change. We’ve been on somewhat of a tight budget lately, with Christmas and our son’s birthday coming up, so he thought for a moment about keeping the money, but knew the right thing to do was to give it back. So he did give it back, and didn’t think much more about it. When he got home that evening, he went to the garage to look for a tool and found an old envelope. Inside was a form letter for one of those Nielsen surveys we used to get in the mail dated November 16, 2007. Also inside was $30.
God is still, and always faithful. Today, I’m going to strive to look for ways that I can be thankful. The Word says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2 NKJV).
Thank You, Lord for the many, many ways in which You’ve blessed us. They are too numerous to name. Thank You for always being faithful, even when we don’t understand the “whys” of things, and that we can trust that You are still good and that You love us and will never leave us. Thank You most of all for Your salvation that paid for our sins on the cross to set us free and make us right with You. I pray that the whole world will know how much You love us all. Help me to be an encourager rather than a complainer. At the same time, help me to be honest about my feelings and seek help and comfort through my church family when I need it; but no matter what I’m going through, help me to remember to be grateful for the good things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”