Sometimes in the evening when I reflect on the happenings of what has been a pretty ordinary day, all sorts of things for which I'm thankful come to mind, but most of them are pretty mundane and I'm sure of little interest to anyone else. But there is one thing that comes to mind that is pretty universal: the ability and willingness to see the blessings that are all around us.
The media and political pundits tell us how angry the American voters are; "that's the reason Trump is doing so well in the polls," they say. Could be. People are scared when they see terrorism at our doorstep, a government that increasingly weasels its way into our lives and takes a bigger and bigger bite of our paychecks, along with the erosion of traditional values hastened by activist courts. People feel they are losing significant control over their own lives. In our own area, drug abuse is epidemic, with people dying of overdoses on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis. It is impossible to turn on the news or open a paper without hearing of some new catastrophe somewhere in the world. If that weren't enough, social media is awash with people airing their grievances in often ugly ways.
The good news is that we have choices in all this. I used to be one of those who could spot the cloud in every silver lining. Negativity was my middle name. Thankfully, my eyes were opened to the effect that negativity was having on my own soul. It was killing me, inch by inch. I made a decision to stop the negativity in my own life; to quit criticizing and complaining, to cease commenting on and passing along every sarcastic Facebook post, and instead, to focus on the good in life. Honestly, it didn't' change anything in the world around me. The political scene is at least as caustic as it was four years ago, perhaps more so; Facebook is still largely negative, and people are still scared. The world around me hasn't changed at all, unless it's for the worst. But the world inside me is totally different. I am more at peace and much happier than ever before. Even my wife notices. She says I'm much easier to live with. I hope so. Negative people are hard to live with. Often I didn't like living with me; how she put up with it all these years is a testament to God's grace and her patience.
So tonight I am grateful to have had my eyes opened so I could begin to look for the beauty all around. It's there; it's never left; it's just that for many of us, our ability to recognize it has been truncated, and our eagerness to search it out has been dulled. The Scripture says that "for freedom Christ has set us free." Once, held in the bondage of the sin of ingratitude and complaining, I made life miserable for myself and for those around me. But Christ truly has set me free! Once I recognized what I was doing, I learned that I don't have to live that way anymore. And when I don't have to live that way, the people I love don't have to put up with it. It's a win-win, all the way around, and for that, I am thankful tonight. The best part is, it's not just for me. This is a common, accessible blessing available to anyone willing to trade their misery for blessing. The Bible word for it is repentance, and it's good stuff!