An attitude of gratitude colors how you see your life and how you feel about it. It has been said that a majority of our emotions are determined by how we interpret events to ourselves. As the famous Proverb says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (See Proverbs 23:7.)
My favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This movie changed my life. I learned right along with George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) how much I have to be grateful for. Sometimes we have to go through hard times or experience deprivation to realize how good we’ve got it. I think we all need an angel like Clarence assigned to us for a while, for however long it takes, to be trained to look at our lives differently. Some of us would really make our angel work hard to earn those wings.
Many of us have that “IF ONLY” hanging over our heads. If only I had more income. If only I had a spouse. If only I had a better place to live. If only I didn’t have this problem. If only I had a better job, or better clothes, or better health, or a better car. The “American Dream” is more like the “American Epidemic”. We always want something better or something more!
My son, Joshua, had a short mission trip to the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago. What my son observed was a life lesson well worth the price of the trip. He told me they have next to nothing—no nice clothes, no decent houses, no cars, no shoes. They have dirt floors and barely any food and the kids run around half naked and filthy, but they are happy! They smile and they sing and they dance. For church on Sunday they danced for hours and Joshua said they danced with them and all had so much fun. Here we have so much and we all want more and we are not grateful for what we have. Wow, I’m getting convicted all over again.
“Rejoice always…in everything give thanks.” Isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing? “Do all things without complaining… [whining, griping etc.].” Isn’t this what we are not supposed to be doing? Yet, I must admit I dream about going to Hawaii some day. I am also dreaming about a royal blue Honda Odyssey Van right now. I can’t help it! I want, or no, actually I NEED a better vehicle. My old ’88 Chevy, a little blue wagon, is a great little car that has served me well. However, I need to visit my elderly father in Northern California (who has been fighting cancer and had a stroke) and my car just doesn’t have enough power to drive down Highway 5 over Grants Pass at 75 miles an hour. Also, I drive six or seven teenagers to go Folk Dancing in Port Angeles (a half hour away) on Sunday nights. I only have five seatbelts, so several kids cram in the far back. I need a bigger car! So I’m praying about this and thinking about how to earn some extra money to earn my dream van. I’m still grateful for my little Chevy wagon though—me and my teenager friends probably couldn’t go to Folk Dance without it!
I heard a great quote yesterday by Kris Vallotton, one of the Pastors at Bethel Church in Redding, California. He said something about how those who are positive thinkers try to focus on the half full part of the proverbial glass. However, when we know Jesus we have hope of the eternal filling of our cup. Is your cup being filled, or being emptied? When we know who we are in Christ and have our trust in Him, we will not only have a positive outlook on life we will have supernatural vision and a peace that surpasses understanding and bright hopes for tomorrow!
There is nothing wrong with dreaming and working towards things and praying and waiting on God for better things in our lives. However, let’s be grateful and appreciative and enjoy what we do have already. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!