What it comes down to is narrowing in on prayer petitions versus offering praises. Focusing on what’s lacking or could be done, what’s missing, when I could be centering in on what is there, has already been done, and is reason to have hope for the future.
What an ungrateful little snot I can be sometimes! It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are many moments when my attitude is very much like those of toddlers and little ones when they don’t get their way. I’m not saying I throw sand in people’s eyes or have a knock-down drag-out tantrum when someone refuses to listen to what I’m saying or flat-out tells me no, but I do tend to focus on the things I want rather than seeing everything else around me that’s going well.
I can be every bit as stubborn as a child when my ideas and suggestions aren’t considered or met with approval. Let’s consider for a moment a hypothetical situation in case playground drama isn’t something you’ve had to deal with recently.
Pete has his heart set on playing his favorite game with two particular friends once outside. He comes out ready for action. He proposes to his two friends Simon and Hamlet that they each find a long piece of mulch and use them as pirate swords. The three search for the largest pieces of mulch they can find and reconvene for a preliminary swordfight. A teacher quickly appears reminding the trio that the mulch needs to stay on the ground and that no one can play pretend weapons or fighting games at school. Simon and Hamlet drop their makeshift swords immediately and run off to the sandbox. Pete grips his chunk of mulch a moment longer, trying to ignore the teacher’s stare.
Seeing he’s not going to win, Pete throws the mulch down, crosses his arms, and scowls at the teacher for ruining his fun. He’s so busy being upset that his pirate pipedream was thwarted that he doesn’t see that there’s a swing open he could use, a game of tag he could join, a plethora of sand toys in the sandbox he could use to help his friends build a huge castle or even a pirate ship. Opportunities for fun abound, yet there he stands sulking.
Do you ever feel frustrated, exasperated, and angry when no one will listen to you? When you experience these emotions, do you let them escalate, or do you switch to thinking about something that is going right? Do you try to find someone who does listen or acknowledge that the person who won’t listen most needs to be listened to at that moment?
This makes me wonder how often I shut God out when He wants to show or tell me something. I’m sure there have been countless times when He tosses me some lemons, and I’m so busy lamenting that I didn’t get a fruit I like better, perhaps something sweet or in season, that I don’t realize He’s already provided me with a pitcher, clean water, ice cubes, a stirrer, and sugar. Some of these supplies I might have to dig for a little bit or ask for help to find, but they’re available to me. No, instead of making a nice tall pitcher of ice cold lemonade, I spend too much time wondering why I wound up with the lemons when the person next to me got strawberries.
Lord, please help me accept the grace You offer in abundance and spend more time praising, revering, glorifying, and honoring You than I do petitioning You. Obviously I still need to be reminded to “be still and know [You] are God” Psalm 46:10.