Children have to be taught gratitude. It doesn't come naturally. I've met some children who seem to have been born gracious. But I have been around children for a long time, and I know better. It is a trait that has been carefully instilled by parents, or learned individually through unfortunate experience. As adults, gratitude either thrives or shrivels, depending on how much we use it. If we become negative, bitter, critical people, we neglect to see the blessings. When we praise God for every breath we take, every morsel of food we lift to our lips, every dry, warm night we spend out of the elements, thankfulness grows and envelops us. Which brings me to today's passage about Ziba. Do you remember Ziba? I gave him high praise several posts ago (A Servant's Choice). Tsk, tsk, tsk. Alas, Ziba has somehow allowed ingratitude to creep into his heart.
|Rainbow on a Cloudy Day--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book One|
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1925
Our former pastor often used the illustration of the older lady who always saw the positive side of everything. It drove people crazy, because no matter what subject was brought up, she could always see the bright side. Determined to get her to say something negative, one man asked her if she could find anything good to say about Satan. She just gave a little chuckle, shook her head and said, "Well, that devil, he never gives up!" What a spectacular way to look at things! I'm not saying we should smile when we are facing sorrow. I'm not suggesting that we plaster a smile on our face everywhere we go. But some people never smile or never look happy. It makes me think they have forgotten their blessings. It makes me think they didn't know they had any to begin with.
When we are tempted to be somewhere other than where we are, when we yearn for things we don't have, we are preparing our hearts to go the way of Ziba. We are acting out of ingratitude. God has a way of dealing with that. He is expert in stripping away all we held as dear, and showing us what is really important. It is not always easy to magnify the good, when the bad seems so much greater. I know that. But shouldn't we try? When my humdrum life seems too hum or drum, I need to look to God for giving me simple things to enjoy. When life seems hard and steep, I need to thank God He sustains me, pushes me, keeps me going. Ziba forgot what a blessing it was to be the loyal friend of Mephibosheth. He failed to see that not just anyone would have been given such a position of trust. Instead of wishing for more, he should have seen that not just anyone could do his job. When we do what God calls us to do with gratitude, it may be that He will give us more. Then we have to choose to be thankful for the more.