Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lessons my parents taught me: Part 2--Being grateful for what you have

"If you can't appreciate what God has already given you, why should He give you anything else?" This is what my mother told me a few years ago. This was during a time when I had graduated from grad school and was looking for a job, but by the 12th interview, I was given another rejection letter. Even a woman who knew me, saw me in action, and even prayed with me turned me away. I felt that I had a right to a decent job. After all, I worked hard in school and the part-time job at the time, I had a perfect GPA, I belonged to two honor societies (which I did not neglect to put on my resume), I was a Christian who went to church every Sunday without fail, I was an elder, a hymnist, a Director of Sextons, and I ran the acolyte program. I felt that I earned each job for which I applied and that any position for which I qualified was mine by divine right.

Thus, when I was rejected those positions, there was nothing left for me to feel but sorry for myself, and angry with God--so angry that I boldly rebuked a promise Christ made to His disciples: "Ask, and you will receive." My response was, "I have done nothing but ask, yet I do not receive. Were you just whistling Dixie or what? Here I am, Your servant, singing--bellowing--for my supper, yet you let others stuff themselves around me while I starve!" I was furious, doubtful, but above all, foolish.

Therefore, one day, I told my mother about what I was reading in the Book of Job, quoting things he lamented about his plight. I sided with him and expressed how unfair God was being to me. My mother reminded me that I still had a job, food on the table, and a place I could call my own. When all of that failed to get through my thick skull, she said what was quoted at the beginning of this post. Soon after, a man who has been like a father to me, Pastor Kluge, said in a sermon, "God is unfair for our own good." He elaborated by saying that if God were fair, Christ would not have been sent to suffer and die for our sins, and we would be damned for eternity. Indeed, we deserve nothing, but God is good, and He provides for us as He knows we need to be.

There is a Buddhist principle that applies to all people--especially Christians: "All life is suffering." Who is to blame for that suffering? Us! Our sinful nature is the cause of our own suffering, and the suffering of others. We as Americans especially! Our greed, selfishness, and desire are the cause of our own suffering. A man wants to live in a mansion and is tired of eating hot dogs and cereal when he feels he deserves to eat steak and lobster and drive a Lexus. So, he gets involved in the drug trade for more money, goes to prison, and his wife and children are forced to live on the streets. A woman wants a rich, macho Romeo who will feed her sexual desires and buy her expensive presents. So, she sleeps outside of wedlock with a man whom she knows does not love or even respect her, and she becomes pregnant and infected with an STD.

The irony of it is, when we think we are poor and unfortunate, there are those who are really poor who are content with what they have. You live in a studio apartment where all of your neighbors take no pride in their homes or their community? There are people living in makeshift houses with tin roofs, and they praise the Lord that it gives them shelter from the rain. You hate the rundown car you are driving? There are people who must walk 20 miles to find clean drinking water. Are you tired of eating Stovetop or not having enough hamburger in your Helper? There are people who barely eat a full bowl of gruel a week. We do not deserve riches and comfort, we do not deserve, Declaration of Independence notwithstanding, happiness, and we do not even deserve good health. We deserve nothing that is good. Anything remotely positive that we deserve is the right to claim what others hold from us--things society says we can have if we earn them. Mind you, we have the right to claim, but not to take. These things we are given by God all in good time, but only if it is His will.

"Though He giveth and He taketh
God His children never forsaketh. 
It's His loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy."

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