“Now is the winter of our discontent…”William Shakespeare, from Richard III
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”Apostle Paul, Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV, emphasis added)
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.Apostle Peter, I Peter 1:3-5 (MSG)
2020 has been a year to remember, and a year to forget. Something we should all remember, though, as we head into Thanksgiving week is that there are still blessings all around. We may have to look a little harder than we normally do, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.
God has built into our human hearts a longing for something that transcends us. This ultimately points us to heaven and to God himself, but for now, beauty can also stir in us a sense that life is worth living, and that there is more to come. Earthly beauty is an appetizer for the bountiful feast that awaits us in eternity.
So look for it. It’s waiting to be found.
Maybe you find the sound of children playing annoying, all that shouting and boundless energy–but listen to the bubbling joy of laughter not yet weighed down by the burdens of grown-up responsibilities. Maybe you squint when the sun gets in your eyes, but (as long as you’re not driving!) take a moment to close your eyes and turn your face up toward the sun–see the color of your eyelids, feel the warmth on your face. Watch the way sunlight delicately plays with objects around you–sparkles, shimmers, shadows. Or maybe you’ve never appreciated loved ones so much as when it’s difficult or even impossible to gather with them, as it is this year. Cherish each fleeting moment.
God gave us all these things, and so much more.
To a great extent, we can choose to be miserable, to focus on anything and everything that is going wrong, and make this a winter of our discontent. Or we can choose to find the many blessings God sprinkles along our journeys and be thankful to Him.
Looking at the Bible verses I mentioned above, especially Philippians 4:11-13 and Habakkuk 3:17-18, there’s a certain defiance that I find inspiring, and it’s a good reminder, too. Paul and Habakkuk are not waiting for the situation to improve before they praise God. I really love the word “yet” in the passage from Habakkuk; the world is falling apart and my life stinks, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. This pattern of thinking becomes self-fulfilling: when you are thankful to God in spite of your circumstances, He will give you eyes to see that they are not as bad as you might think at the moment. Or He will make them better. Or both!
A posture of gratitude leads to peace that surpasses all understanding, and it leads to inexpressible joy.
So which do you choose? Discontent or thanksgiving?