Everyone has struggles in life, but for me, I just learned a powerful lesson about my attitude toward those struggles. Instead of praising God for all the wonderful things he has given me and done for me, I was in complaint mode.
I work 35 hours per week at a wonderful ministry that helps hurting women, then I come home and work another 30 hours per week as a writer, editor and life coach. As I build up my client base, I enjoy watching how God uses my work to make a difference in others’ lives.
But lately, my attitude has been stinky. Instead of thanking God for the work and the results I had been seeing, I complained to him about how hard it is.
“I am sick and tired of ‘nickel and dimeing’ my way through life, God. I don’t understand why some people have it so easy and make money as quickly as rabbits make babies. Why do I have to work so hard? I’m sick and tired of these financial struggles.”
I imagine God was sick and tired of listening to me complain, because instead of making my life easier – he added a little difficulty. In the middle of one of my whining sessions about finances, he reminded me to be a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7) and whispered to my heart to add another 20 dollars to the offering plate at church. In cash.
“But I already sent in my tithe, God, and now you’re asking me to give more? Plus, if I write a check, the business manager at church will give me credit for it and I will earn a bigger tax deduction at the end of the year. If I give it in cash, no one will ever know. Another 20 dollars? Seriously?”
But God would not leave the subject alone, and he ignored my complaints. I inwardly fought with him during the entire worship service. By the time the offering plate came around, I knew what I needed to do and was able to toss in my 20-dollar bill with a somewhat obedient, though not exactly cheerful, heart.
Maybe God was reminding me of how grateful I should be that I had another 20 to put into the offering.
Because I’ve been working so hard and earning those nickels and dimes, a 20-dollar bill hid inside my billfold, just waiting for an opportunity to give it away.
After church, I spent some time on my deck, looking at my flowers and thanking God for the beauty of spring. Then I thanked him for being patient with me as I try to learn how to be a more cheerful giver – but inwardly, I still wondered why I have to work so hard to make a buck. From my point of view, it seems that the rest of the world has plenty of money to make investments, buy new cars and enjoy travel during their retirement years.
In that moment, God reminded me of Psalm 73 and how the writer of that Psalm, Asaph, also found himself in a complaining mood. He also needed an attitude adjustment because he wondered about the prosperity of the wicked and the seemingly carefree life of the rest of the world.
“This is what the wicked are like,” Asaph wrote, “always carefree, they increase in wealth” (Psalm 73:12).
Yes, I totally understood that feeling.
Asaph went on to explain how unfair it was and then finally, he recognized his own complaining spirit. “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you” (Psalm 73:21-22).
After reading this, I shook my head. “Oh, God, I really don’t want to be a brute beast. Nor do I want to be bitter.”
God reminded both Asaph and me that he is always with us. He holds us by the hand and guides us. After this life, he will take us to glory where it won’t matter how many nickels and dimes we have. The only investment that will count then is how we spent our lives serving him and loving him. What a powerful truth! I could feel God nudging me to smile and be grateful for his blessings, rather than complaining.
Asaph closes out the Psalm with a similar divine attitude adjustment. He writes, “It is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:28).
I have to agree with Asaph. No matter how hard I work or how little money I make, the important thing is to grow nearer to God and let him adjust those places in me that have unpleasant attitudes. “It is good to be near God” and I rejoice in that – even if I am still working hard for every nickel and dime.
Check out an earlier post by RJ Thesman here.