There are so many lessons to be found in the few Bible verses, which tell us the “Christmas story,” detailing the birth of Jesus. This year one verse has really jumped out at me, coming back to my mind many times.
In Luke 2:17 we read that the shepherds, who just a short time earlier had been terrified when angels appeared to them, “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”
They listened to the words of the angels, checked it out for themselves, then told everybody what they had seen.
Nowhere in my Bible does it say that they grumbled and complained about having their night interrupted, leaving their flocks, or traveling to the place where the baby was sleeping, or anything like that. Instead the Scripture suggests that they were excited about what they had seen and wanted, everyone to share in their gladness.
How many times do we hear people telling about the good things that have happened to them? Good things do happen to all of us, often even in the midst of times of sorrow. Do we talk about the good things, or only about the cause of sorrow, whether it be death, health issues, financial problems, troubles in relationships or any of the dozens of other things that are common to everyday life?
I often get aggravated when I hear people failing to give thanks for blessings they have received. And yet, many times they are the first to ask “Why did God let that happen?” when something goes wrong. So many people are quick to complain and blame, and so slow to thank and praise.
I have a friend who has gone through more struggles this year than any person should have to face in one year. Even though she is emotionally exhausted from the struggles, she keeps on going, always having words of encouragement for those around her, always reaching out to help someone else with a greater need. She never complains, but always seems to find something good in every situation, and is loved by many because of her positive outlook on life.
I also have a friend who spends much of her time alone, possibly because she always sees the dark side of everything, and always finds a reason to complain. Her “woe is me” attitude often keeps people from including her in their activities.
Grumbling, complaining, finding fault, blaming others are attitudes that can be so habit-forming and so easy to fall into. Looking for the good in every situation is not always so easy.
But wouldn’t life be so much nicer without all the grumbling and complaining that is heard day after day, if it were replaced by people telling others “look how I was blessed today” with the enthusiasm and excitement those shepherds so long ago must have felt? Not that we are to brag and boast about all the good things we have received, for then our thanks becomes meaningless. But when we are truly happy and willing to talk about our blessings, instead of complaining about what did or didn’t happen, not only are we blessed, but so are those around us.
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Thought for the week — Count your blessings, name them one by one.