So, where do we go and what do we do with all of our ingratitude that is supposedly holding us back from the life of our dreams?
I think we should wallow in it awhile. I do! I think it’s a good place for us to sit and ponder. I think we need to feel it, embrace it, and allow ourselves the freedom to really experience it before we bag it for a better attitude.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for all things. It even says there is a time to hate. (How many times have we also been told not to hate?) My mind runs to Job and his plight, how his friends were clueless on how to console him. I think about all of those who sat in sack cloth, covered in ashes, outside the city, experiencing loss and, with it, a bit of grief and ingratitude for the current situation. Sure, Job said that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. He willingly accepted the evil in his life. But, there came a time when he grieved, when he was not grateful for his situation. Instead, he wished he’d never been born. And, his friends chided him for it. Just like people chide us for not getting up and moving on, fully accepting all that God has done in our lives. What are we doing sitting in these ash heaps? Much like we chide those ungrateful, foolish Israelites for not dancing their way through the wilderness with full hearts.
What I think people sometimes forget about the Israelites is they, like Job, had lost sons.
And, whether we’ve physically lost our children through death or custody loss, or we’ve witnessed them die spiritually, or we’ve lost a relationship with them as they’ve picked up the mantle of abuse, we’ve lost children, too.
Job expressed a feeling of being overwhelmed in the aftermath of such great loss. Certainly the Israelites must have felt overwhelmed, too. Survivors of abuse feel overwhelmed trying to acclimate into “normal” life, whatever that is.
Job thought it would have been better if he’d never been born. The Israelites thought it would have been better to have remained in Egypt. And, sometimes we wonder if it would have been better to have stayed in our abusive marriages. (There, I said it. Because, honestly, don’t we sometimes think we’ve jumped from the frying pan into the fire? And, isn’t that part of why we’re ungrateful?)
The point of this life though isn’t this life. The point is to make us more like Jesus, to make us ready for eternity with the Father. And, I think that is just what this experience does for us.
Jesus is our perfect example, and we cannot possibly be perfect like him. He was tempted but was without sin. Unlike us. Hence, our daily need for Him! But, even our perfect Savior sweat great drops of blood in the garden and asked if the cup could pass from him. He wasn’t praising the Father and thanking Him for this wonderful opportunity to suffer horrendously for the sake of all mankind. He submitted willingly and gently, but He expressed fear and pain and anxiety. And, because He suffered, not just the physical pain of the cross but also the mental and emotional anguish of its anticipation, we have a High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, Hebrews 4:15
That gives me HOPE in my ungrateful attitude in these dark days following trauma. I can take it to my High Priest without shame. I can freely talk to Him about it. He gets it. He understands.
Hebrews also gives us a little more insight into the Israelites and their “issue” in the wilderness when it tells us the Lord was displeased with the hardness of their hearts. Instead of merely grieving and not expressing thankfulness in the current circumstance, like Job or Jesus, the Israelites actively and openly rebelled in their state of unthankfulness. Jesus’s heart wasn’t hard when He sweat those drops of blood and asked for a way to avoid what was coming down the pike. Job’s heart wasn’t hard when he rued the day he was born.
Their hearts remained tender. As ours should.
Jesus is an approachable High Priest because He experienced what we experience. Hopefully we’re learning to be compassionate and approachable in all of this. Hopefully someday we’ll be lifted up out of our ash heaps and into places where we’ll be called upon to sit with someone else in their ash heap and bring them comfort. Hopefully, we will, unlike Job’s friends, bring that comfort. Because we know what it’s like. We get it. We’ve experienced what they are experiencing. In that moment, hopefully we’ll be a little bit more like Jesus because of what we’ve been through.
That I can be thankful for.