“Gratitude is the joy that arises in response to God’s good will toward us in all his gifts.” – John Piper
How has isolation affected your emotions? Have you been aware of grumbling in your day to day life?
I am not talking about complaining: I am talking about a deeper inner grumbling. I don’t know what your circumstances are in this lockdown; personally, I live in a flat with five other guys. They all have different personalities and ways of living – the only thing we share is our relationship with our Lord Jesus. As you can imagine, this means that things can get a bit heated and frustrating when dealing with one another.
I have noticed that instead of outright complaining, a common trait is to keep quiet and to complain within yourself. I think this can be equally as troublesome for the person who lives alone, if not worse, than for the person who lives with many. It might not feel like you have anyone you can reach out to or talk to about what you are feeling, or perhaps you haven’t considered it. In either case, it is very important to face your emotions head on. Grumbling is usually a response to certain emotions – fear, anger, sadness. Once you recognize the emotion, you can address the appropriate response to that emotion.
Where do you stand in this lockdown- how is it affecting your emotions?
Keeping your focus on Christ isn’t easy. I for one, struggle to keep my emotions in check- sometimes every few minutes! This is the reason I used the word “Battle” in the title, because essentially, we are warring against lies i.e. There isn’t anything good that can come out of this situation, or why did God put me in this situation? I was better off in where I was before. The best way to do that is to fight with the truth. The Bible makes one thing very clear: renewing the mind in Romans 12 is a constant and active thing. To find gratitude in life is to find gratitude in Christ. To fully grasp this I want to look at Jesus right before he is taken to the Pharisee leaders to be sentenced to death.
“So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:3-6)
Things often look grim, especially in this time of COVID-19. We may be tempted to lose confidence, unsure of what the future holds within our work, education, world economy, and health! Such uncertainty can put us in an extreme state of fear and panic. Just look at this situation Jesus and his disciples are in. Things look grim. Jesus is giving himself up and they know this means they will put Him to death. Peter’s response is on point to how we often respond – being ruled by our emotions and taking inappropriate action.
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” (John 18:10)
Place yourself in Peter’s situation:
“Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”” (Mark 10:28)
He and the other disciples gave up everything to follow Jesus. That world is seeming to be taken away from them in this moment in John’s retelling. Have you succumbed to emotion, letting grumbling run rampart in your world? This isolation period can give us a lot of time to fill our minds with negative responses to our fears, sadness and anger. Let’s look instead to Christ who is in control of everything.
Look again for a moment at John 18:3-6, and again in verse 11. Jesus is in complete control, from start to finish. Not only is he in control, he is our servant and most powerful Lord! It may look rough right now, and it is rough right now. The word of God never promises otherwise in this fallen world. But what he does promise is comfort and security in Him forever.
I want you to take some time, even right now for just a moment. Think about one small thing that you are grateful for… What is it? Think about it, then think about where it comes from. It is all from Christ, whether it is suffering for growth, or whether it is comfort for growth.
Food for thought:
- Watch this 3-minute clip of John Piper asking about what makes you happy
- Meditate on Psalm 100
- Check out this selection of gratitude-related resources here
Etienne Bruwer is based in Auckland and loves to encourage and build others up in the Lord. When he’s not doing that he loves Anime, podcasting, playing video games and eating with friends.