“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.”
– Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
With all of the chaos going on in our world, it often becomes important to pause and consider the truly great events in human history—times when mankind demonstrated courage, honor, and sacrifice.
One of those events occurred 75 years ago today, when American troops invaded Normandy during World War II. That was June 6, 1944.
I suppose today will come and go pretty normally, except that our social media newsfeeds will be dotted with black-and-white images of men exiting Higgins boats, readying themselves to attack German beachheads as bullets are zipping by their heads. We’ll thank our soldiers and remind everyone to remember what happened that day, then we’ll stand around at the coffee pot and chitchat with our coworker, we’ll go to lunch, go home and watch our show and hit the sack like we normally do.
For the most part, it’ll be a regular day.
Every Wednesday, I host a men’s group held at an accounting firm in my hometown. Normally, we share a Bible verse and then have a discussion centered on a particular topic. Yesterday, we were talking about the concept of inner peace.
If you are honest with yourself, would you say that you are at peace?
That was the leadoff question I asked the group.
After we talked about that, we started to talk about ways to have peace in our life. The guys threw out several great responses like worshipping God, prayer, attending church, and focusing on Jesus, not our circumstances. Then the word “gratitude” popped in my head.
Recently, God has been teaching me the hard lesson about living a life of gratitude (historically, I have not been very good at it). I think it’s so important to be grateful for your life, grateful for your blessings, grateful for the things God has done in your life, and grateful for the people God has brought into your life.
But we have become so spoiled and entitled in America that we’ve forgotten to be grateful.
Kids are spoiled. Why? Because the parents have spoiled them.
I hear parents say, “I don’t want my kids to struggle like I did.”
Why not? Struggle is good. We need to struggle.
My generation’s parents didn’t give a hoot if we struggled or not. Talk about Struggle Bus? We rode the daggum Struggle Stretched Limo.
Many of us have also received our Master’s degree in the Art of Complaining. Social media, for all the good that it brings, gives people a microphone to voice their complaints and perceived injustices. But we have gotten too complainey. Please allow me to give you an example.
The other day, I was traveling down the road. Doot-do-doot-doo-doo! Minding my own business. I came to a four-way stop about the same time as another vehicle, but it was clear to me that the woman directly across the intersection arrived at the stop before I did. There was no doubt in my mind I arrived second at that intersection. So I waved her on (I thought I was being nice). At the same time, she was waving me on. Nobody moved. Here we go.
I knew I wasn’t first and I was adamant that she go in front of me, so I just kept wagging my hand. This all happened over the course of about five seconds. Finally she went.
Well, as she was turning left in front of me, she threw her hands up and starting cursing at me. She was absolutely furious!
Wait, I let you go first! I thought to myself, shaking my head.
This, my friends, has become a microcosm of American society.
We’ve become so distracted by the ways we are inconvenienced that we miss out on our blessings.
We’re so focused on our stuff that we miss out on people.
We’re so focused on what we don’t have that we aren’t grateful for what we have.
We’re so focused on what we do for a living instead of the person we are and are becoming.
We’re so focused on perfection that we can’t be grateful for the imperfect.
We have become enslaved to comfort and convenience that any sense of discomfort or inconvenience sets us off.
We rant more than we thank.
We complain more than we compliment.
Because we hone in on one thing that’s negative we are blinded to the positive.
We’re so conditioned to having everything at our fingertips that if we have to reach to get something, we go totally insane.
We’ve got instant coffee and Alexa and we are absolutely miserable.
We overdramatize life.
I’m so guilty of this. This, meaning practically everything I just mentioned.
The other day, my wife and I were pulling out of the Chick-Fil-A parking lot. I was trying to merge onto traffic, but I couldn’t seem to wedge myself in. Like, five cars went by.
“This is a nightmare,” I groused.
Five cars. A nightmare?
“You know, I never realized how dramatic I am,” I admitted after I finally pulled onto the road.
My wife’s eyes got big as saucers as she mouthed, “ah, yeah!”
But it’s true, isn’t it? We are so, so spoiled.
Just be grateful, folks.
I’ll close with this thought.
Late in life, my dad became enthralled with the movie White Christmas starring Bing Crosby. Once, when I visited my parents, he showed me a clip on a VHS tape of Crosby singing the song “Count Your Blessings” to his co-star Rosemary Clooney. It’s a lovely little song.
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
There’s a reason why our souls are not at rest.
And I think a grateful heart is more apt to be at peace than a complaining heart.
The Apostle Paul said that he has learned to be content no matter the circumstances. This is not hocus-pocus, but rather a product of knowing Jesus Christ himself.
So today, let’s count our blessings. Take time today to inventory the many ways God has blessed you. Focus on the positive in people and circumstances. Gaze for a moment at the Cross and ponder the sacrifice of it.
And pause to reflect on the soldiers who gave us the ability to have a regular day in the first place. 78