As you may know, with the calendar turning to November my life is about to change. My wife, Jessica, and I are expecting our first baby! We are having a son and he is due to make his appearance on November 8! Over the last few months we have been extremely busy, and overwhelmed, with the preparations. We have been blown away by the generosity of people in the church. And I am a bit in shock by how much STUFF a baby needs! It definitely hits home when you are putting together everything and hoping you did it correctly so the baby is safe in the crib or a swinging chair. Fortunately our cats have been more than happy to test everything out and make sure they are safe.
When we first found out we were going to have a baby we were filled with excitement. Jessica actually found out while I was in Pennsylvania at a youth ministry conference and had to wait to tell me once I got home. Friday, March 6th was a day I will never forget, the day I found out that I am a dad. Over the next few weeks we had doctor’s appointments and waited until we were able to share and celebrate our news. Telling our friends and family was a blast, and guessing of the gender began. Soon after we found out that the baby that God was knitting together (Psalm 139:13) was a boy, something started to change. Whenever the topic of the baby came up, excited questions were no longer what people (in general) were asking. Instead, people started making lighthearted jokes and complaining.
“Enjoy sleep while you can.”
“You’ll never sleep again.”
“Vacations are not as fun.”
“You won’t get to watch any more sports or tv.”
“You and your wife/husband will never talk about anything else once he is here.”
It has become so common that people say these things that it has started to weigh us down. We went out on a date night and we talked about how this will be our last “normal” date. While putting things together, we have started to complain about how much we have to do. And maybe worst of all, it almost seems like our excitement has started to dwindle.
Have you ever heard of the hashtag #firstworldproblems? It is when people complain about something that only happens in a first world country, like having to get up to find a remote to the flatscreen smart tv. It seems our culture has become so fluent in complaining that it has become a joke and a hashtag. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Whenever I have read this verse, I have thought of it as a good reminder to be grateful even when things are not going as well as we would like them to. But it seems that Christians in our culture need a reminder to give thanks for their blessings.
Let us look at situations and find how we can express gratitude for how God may be using that situation for our good.
Looking at the story I started with, it may be easy to say to me, “well it is hard, you do not know what is coming!” And that is probably true! But what does it say about us as a culture when our go-to response in so many situations is to point out the negative and complain. Instead we should be giving thanks in those circumstances and giving an example of gratitude to the world. I had a conversation with a parent who told me that the sleepless nights are hard, but it is amazing to just hold your baby and have them look at you with love in their eye. They told me how that was some of the best bonding that ever took place. That is an attitude of gratitude.
There is a phrase that is used in Christian circles sometimes: preach to yourself. This phrase is used to teach people that they need to constantly remind themselves the Truth of the Gospel. We can be forgetful of the power of the Gospel so we must constantly remind ourselves of what Jesus did for us and why it is so amazing. I want to encourage us to preach to ourselves in another way as well. We should preach gratitude to ourselves. Let us look at situations and find how we can express gratitude for how God may be using that situation for our good. So this week we should look for situations that we normally would complain about and just change our language. We can start small. While watching a video online and it buffers – “Ugh hurry up” to “thank you Lord for this piece of technology.” Making small changes like that can help turn our heart toward gratitude and our posture toward the Lord will improve and our light will shine (Matthew 5:14-16).
Friends, we have so much to be thankful for. May we be different than the culture around us. Let us practice using words that indicate that we know God has blessed us, instead of complaining so often that it seems we believe God has not given us enough.