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Monday, 14 October 2013 08:00

Gratitude

James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about where we are in life, and how we got here. We bought our house after the housing boom, which means that our mortgage as a percentage of our income is about three times what our parents mortgages were 20 years ago, but we were blessed with the help of family and we have both been blessed with skills that give us part-time income at high hourly wages to cover our extra costs. 

Sometimes I feel proud of where we have come and how we have gotten here, because we have done it by working hard - but last week, Brian was given notice at his job.  Not because he had performed poorly, but because the company just happened to be downsizing extremely - and will soon be one man working from his home - without really giving any advance warning signs. Now he is job hunting again after less than a year, and although I'm confident he will find a job, and we will be fine, it makes me stop and think about the 'what ifs' of our situation - and about the reality of many other people's situations.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. 

I know that this first verse is typically used by Christians who want to argue that they don't have to actually DO anything as a Christian (ie - it is not by works), but the last part of these verses has struck me recently as maybe being more to the point - 'so that no one can boast'.  

Because really - Brian and I are not 'here' because we did all of the right things. We don't have a house, we don't have each other, and we don't have our two daughters because we followed 'the perfect formula' to acheive these things.  There are many, many people who save up for years to buy a house, and as the housing prices skyrocket, and wages don't increase - their hopes become more and more distant. There are people who spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to 'meet the right person' in various ways, and yet are still single. And there are many, many infertile couples who desperately want a child of their own.

And of course there are some 'wrong' things to do to acheive these ends - but for the most part, these people don't have the things they want - not because they haven't done all of the right things, and worked harder to acheive these things than I have, but because for whatever reason - they just don't.  Things just didn't work out for them like they have for me - and I can't give a reason why. 

I can't tell you why a brain surgeon from the middle east is working two minimum wage jobs in North America trying to pay the rent for his family, despite all of his education and effort.  I can't tell you why the woman with two young children whose husband just got sick of her and walked away is now homeless and jobless with two babies to feed.  I can't tell you why the couple who always wanted many children have had to stop after just one because health issues during her pregnancy mean that another pregnancy would risk her life. None of this is fair, and I don't deserve any of these things any more than so many people in the world who will never have what I have. 

So that I can not boast - I need to know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and not because I am 'that awesome', but because - for whatever reason - God chose to bless me with what he has blessed me with. It's not even because I have worked really hard, because so many people have worked much harder than I have, but still have less. Knowing that gives me a bit of extra responsibility, I think - to take very good and careful care of what I have been given, and to make sure I am using what I have been given wisely. 

And - mostly - I want to be grateful.

For everything in the world that I have that I don't have to have. Everything I have that I am not entitled to. This includes my house, my husband, my daughters, my car and the computer I am typing this on. I am not entitled to the clothing I wear, or the food I eat - not even the breathe in my lungs, because most people don't even have that anymore. My dad doesn't. And my breathe could stop at any moment, which means that I need to be grateful - and behave with gratitude - for every single second of my life and everything in it. 

And may the thanks be to God - so that no one may boast. 

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