“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” Harry Ironside
Last week I shared some things that caused discontent and dissatisfaction in my life. So what’s the best way to fight the Monster of Misery? We can discover so much from the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:4, 6-8 (NASB)
Have you ever tried to be discontent while singing praises to Christ? How about wallowing in misery while thinking about things that are lovely, pure and worthy of praise? I have. After all, I had to test my hypothesis for this blog series! I couldn’t do it. I don’t believe it can be done. I challenge you to try it!
A couple of weeks ago, John and I were hiking a trail in a state park. We ignored the sign that said “Strenuous Trail” – after all, we walk occasionally on rough terrain at home (our flat streets have potholes). We were hiking to see the pristine 95 foot waterfall that was pictured on their website, which labeled it a photographer’s paradise. We slipped and tripped over mossy, damp boulders one mile down to the falls. It was…nice. But I seriously considered suing the state for false advertising.
We turned around and began the one mile hike back UP the mountain. My quadriceps burned out of control with each lunge I took over huge rocks and up the path. I was less than content.
And then…the most beautiful sound! Around the next bend in the trail, a group of students were headed toward the falls. And they were singing, joyfully! Their harmonizing was as clear as the spring water. The notes they sang trickled and danced across the rocks of the creek. In an instant, I was smiling and happy. The path seemed less strenuous, and much shorter after the mini concert.
My attitude adjustment caused me to be thankful. Even though my legs were sore, I was thankful for them. I was able to hike the trail, and see natural beauty all around me. The falls were not what I expected, but they were a peaceful and calming place to rest before the trek back.
It all sounds pretty simple, right? Sing worship songs, rejoice, think about lovely things, pray with thanksgiving. But what happens when the music ends?
To be honest, many times (most times) in the heat of the moment, in the fire of discontent, I forget to rejoice. I forget to pray with thanksgiving, I forget to dwell on things worthy of praise. A hard but honest admission. Why do I forget?
Next week, we’ll learn from the apostle Paul how we can remember!
This post was originally published in 2014.