I need to take heed to myself, get the beam out of my eye, see the other as supremely important and find ways to encourage and build them.
Which do I focus on more: what I want God to do for me/what God has already done for me?
My brain is naturally wired to be concerned about the problems of life, to worry rather than praise and be grateful. I have to work hard to see all the beauty and wonder and praiseworthy things that God is doing.
I may be easy to be grateful for things he has done in the distant past, but I find that it is the recent acts of the Holy Spirit in my life that give me the courage to get up and face today.
I led a Sunday school class for adult mature Christians a few years ago. I would start by splitting the whiteboard into (praises / requests) and then we would go to prayer. At first the requests side was packed and the praise side was empty. I than posed the question,” Is it that God has not been answering prayers, in which case why ask him for more? Or do we promptly forget his blessings, in which case why should he answer my current requests if it brings him no glory?” It only took a few weeks to fill out the praises side with current answers to prayer. I guess the problem was lack of observing God at work and remembering.
I keep working on improving my ability to see what God is doing in my life, by mechanically:
1. Stopping at lunch, supper, and bedtime (The brain can only recall and accurately review the last four hours)
2. Search for anything positive. When God shows me something he has given me I savor it and appreciate it for a moment, let it balance my heart then move on. When I come into trials, the memory of all the good will lessen the impact of the problem and help me turn to God rather than overreact. I look for what others have done that shows character then I take every opportunity to state appreciation to those around me for their positive acts. I look for what God has given me the ability to do and see it as worthwhile.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variability, neither shadow of turning.
Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever
things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things.
At first being picky positive, may come with difficulty, I may feel that I am belittling the seriousness of the problems in my life by noting and savoring the positives. Or I may worry that, if I became too polyannish, I would not deal with the tasks at hand.
In reality, noticing the positives keeps me from being overwhelmed so that I have more stamina more creativity, hope and willingness to cast all my care on him and do the little that we can. I have a greater ability to bring God glory by witnessing to what he is doing in our lives. I have greater peace that he can handle the current situation because he has been handling the recent situations.
My singing and praising him gains substance from being specific rather than vague. It is similar to the difference between saying to your spouse,”I love you” and saying to them. “I so enjoy and appreciate your dependability, enthusiasm, integrity, creativity etc. as I noticed in how you did (fill in the blank_______).”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (She was talking to an earthly love, I like to quote her to express my love to Jesus, He likes me to count the ways.)
(JESUS)How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise,
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
When others let me down -I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -and, if the FATHER choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Suggestions to be grateful for: Things of beauty, interest, feeble efforts, fun, joy, useful, comforting, encouraging, strengthening, helpful,courageous. Has God given me opportunities, opened my eyes to see and heart to pray. Taught me from nature, or his word, or through fellow travelers. I need to give thanks.