Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Worship The Lord"1 (Lyrics)
1 Chronicles 16:34 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (NIV)
This past week, I asked a neighbour to email me a list of old television shows which she thought that I'd enjoy. I replied with a longwinded "Thanks", which afterward exploded within me into an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my upbringing. This reply to her merely got me started:
- Thanks, neighbour, for suggesting television shows for me. You're helping me to catch up on what I missed during those years when we had no television, and I was busy milking cows, measuring cattle feed, shovelling manure, sweeping out stalls, delivering calves, feeding chickens, counting goslings, planting the garden, raking straw, baling hay, throwing hay down from the mow, forking silage, driving tractor, wrestling with that stick shift on the old dump truck, stone-picking, gathering sap, fixing fences, picking cherries, canning applesauce, freezing beans, helping Dad dehorn the yearlings, feeding calves, practicing piano, attending 4-H homemaking club, singing in the church choir … .
Oh, how deprived I was! Ha! I think I've earned my rest — and a few old shows. Thanks for the suggestions! Love, Diane.
That melodramatic ramble was meant to be a mock pity party for my hard work during those years when all my schoolmates were having fun watching the latest television shows. I still remember those times when I felt ostracized and "out of it". I felt deprived, pushed to the side, while my peers prattled endlessly about their heroes — the movie stars. Yet, when I would step off the bus and onto the farm laneway, I knew that I had returned to a life that I would not have traded for all the television shows in the world.
It's occurring to me that gratitude for my "deprived" upbringing has grown significantly over the years. That makes sense; for like old cheese, gratitude improves with aging. It takes time to appreciate the value of past experiences. Some experiences need years before we can accept them as God's carefully designed faith builders — especially where we've felt deprived.
I'm sure that you'd agree that my background was far from deprived. It was rich in life skills and character builders.
Yet, those benefits have also been weaknesses, for they've tempted me to judge others by thinking (essentially), Thank God that I'm not like them! "They" were typically those I considered lazy. This attitude was a sure sign of my spiritual weakness! My strengths were also weaknesses, in that they made me rely on myself more than on God.
Indisputably, the advantages which life provides can actually deprive us of those very weaknesses which cause us to reach out to God. In that sense, being deprived can serve as our strength. Natural weakness can be a channel for spiritual strength. That's why God told the apostle Paul, "My power is made perfect in weakness", and why Paul could respond, "When I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NIV)
It's also why the psalmist could confidently declare, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1 NIV)
Let's examine our lives to see how our experiences have made us rely either more on God or more on ourselves. Then we can look at attitudes that need changing to make sure that we're relying on God instead of on ourselves.
Prayer: Lord, examine our hearts and reveal to us where our trust in You has been weakened by the good things in life. Teach us to appreciate those experiences which make us feel deprived and weak, for they help us to discover the lavish wealth of Your enduring love. Amen.