Last week during my Thanksgiving break, though it was beneficial and necessary for me to reflect upon my blessings, as I was doing so, it occurred to me how easy it was to do. In light of how much I have in comparison with so many other people around the world, how could I respond with anything less than gratitude and appreciation!
But then it dawned on me, "Could I be as thankful for my burdens as I am for my blessings?" King Solomon said it best...
"On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days So that we won’t take anything for granted." Ecclesiastes 7:15 (The Message)
In attempt to express my gratitude for the circumstances in my life that are more difficult than they are joyful, here is a short list of my current "unfortunate realities" that I am thankful for:
1. WHAT I CAN'T AFFORD
I am thankful that I can't afford to pay off all of my debt. It forces me to learn the tough lesson of being a "slave to the lender." It requires me to develop a plan for getting out of debt slowly which is the method by which most people have to do so. If I was given a large sum of money to pay off all of my debt at once, I would be robbed of the opportunity to develop the disciplines of budgeting and delayed gratification. I am so thankful for what I can't afford!
2. HOW I HAVEN'T SUCCEEDED
I am thankful that our church hasn't reached all the growth projections that I had dreamed of and desired when we first launched over two years ago. There is a purifying of motivations that is taking place as a result of failed numerical goals. There is a re-evaluating of my heart that is happening because of unmet expectations. There is a humility that is developing as a result of not being able to achieve what I thought I was capable of achieving. If the church had experienced all the growth I was expecting, I would be more focused on the size of our church than the hearts of our people, I would have missed out on the intimacy of a smaller community of faith, and I would be more arrogant than I already am! I am so thankful for how I haven't succeeded!
3. WHO I DON'T KNOW
I am thankful that I don't have the connections to influential people that some people have. This requires me to trust in God more than I trust in man. This enables me to invest my time with many people as opposed to having my time monopolized by one person who I feel I need to impress or keep satisfied. This frees me to not live and lead in such a way that caters to one type of person and alienates others. If I had connections to famous, influential people I would probably find my identity more in who I'm known by than in who I'm privileged to serve. I am so thankful for who I don't know!
I encourage you to take some time to express your gratitude for your burdens. What you'll find is that when you do, your burdens become your blessings!