I couldn’t even afford $1.50.
Times were hard then as I stood in line at the grocery store trying to get a loaf of bread. I didn’t realize I didn't even have a couple dollars to cover my meager bill until it was too late.
There I was, holding up the line, with no money.
I was mortified as multiple pairs of eyes shot in my direction.
Had someone sucked all the oxygen out of the room? Did anyone turn the heat up? Or was I just breathing shallowly and feeling my body temperature increase? It was definitely the latter.
“It’s only $1.50. I’ll pay that,” said the friendly blonde-haired woman in line behind me.
“No, it’s okay, really,” I insisted. My pride was wounded and her act of charity made me feel worse about it all.
My protestations didn’t change her mind about helping as she removed two shiny coins and a crisp dollar bill from her purse to cover my tab.
“Thank you,” I replied, not knowing what else to say, while shaking my head in disbelief at what was happening.
“No problem. It’s happened to me before. It’s nothing,” she smiled, red-faced.
I could see in her bluish-green eyes that she felt bad for me, but offered reassuring words nonetheless. She did her best not to make a big stink about it.
"I've done that before, you know, ran out of the house thinking I had money and didn't," she told me, once again, attempting to make me feel less demoralized.
I guess she didn't realize I was flat broke.
I didn't forget my money.
I didn't have any.
Once checked out, I got out of there as quickly as possible, pretending not to notice the cold gazes in my direction. It took everything to keep my head held high, though I felt incredibly low.
When I got back inside my vehicle, I audibly said, I cannot believe that just happened. I’m so mortified.
I had told the strange, yet kind, woman the same thing.
Restating the obvious to myself, however, didn’t help, so I drove home half in a daze.
Over and over again I rehearsed the moment, replaying it in my mind.
Then, later that evening, in the middle of a morbid thought about my less than ideal circumstances, a new paradigm interrupted my negative thinking pattern.
It was so different from the depressing perspective I’d instantly adopted that I knew it didn’t originate with me.
Instead of focusing on what you didn’t have, be grateful that someone was glad to help out, said the counter thought.
But I was humiliated!
No, you were helped. Be thankful, the foreign thought once again took over my familiarly discouraging ones.
I was being redirected.
I knew God was getting my attention and reminding me that I needed to put my pride aside and be grateful.
That wasn’t easy to do. Not being able to purchase my own loaf of bread did a number on my psyche. A bevy of emotions—none of them good—flooded me at once.
As I settled down, I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit. I was truly making a mountain out of a molehill. I had elevated that simple inconvenience to the level of a major problem and it really wasn't that serious.
Friend, at some point, we all find ourselves in situations we’d rather not be in at that time. When going through seasons of lack, struggle and valley experiences, deep down, we wish things could be better.
At times, our dignity takes a hit.
If you have ever been openly in a position of weakness, then you know that doesn’t feel good. I mean, we all prefer to feel empowered, in control, strong, secure and independent, don't we?
But guess what? Every season doesn’t lend itself to that.
We all need help from time to time and that's okay.
What isn't okay is to freak out, sulk and convince ourselves we are victimized by life when everything doesn't go our way. What ever happened to the Philippians 4:12-13 mentality that talks about being content in all situations?
The truth of the matter is many things we classify as problems really aren't. We just don't like the way they feel.
Do this for a moment.
Think about how many people in the world are truly suffering that would welcome support and assistance without batting any eye. Millions are enduring severe famine, drought, persecution, disaster and crisis. Their pain is unimaginable.
God had to remind me of that.
Boy did I feel awful.
How selfish of me.
Well, God got me together quickly, didn't He?
There I was, enjoying bread someone else bought me, complaining about my ego being bruised.
It was sort of like the Children of Israel complaining about the Manna God rained down from heaven to feed them in the wilderness. Since it wasn't their ideal meal, they murmured, losing sight of the fact that their food was miraculously prepared.
But even the miraculous is mundane to the ungrateful heart.
In Numbers 11, the Bible says the Israelites cried because they wanted meat. They began reminiscing about Egyptian slavery and the good food they enjoyed.
Isn't it easy for us to see how narrow-minded and self-centered Israel behaved, while struggling to see those same characteristics in ourselves?
We must do better.
As you look back over your life, think of all the days and ways God opened up avenues, gave you supernatural provision and took care of you when you could have perished. Reflect on His goodness and allow your heart to fill up with thanksgiving.
Before slipping into a cycle of murmuring, choose thanksgiving instead.
To help you do that, I'm stirring 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT, which says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
As you drink down the contents of your cup, you will be reminded that the Lord desires that you have an attitude of gratitude. Even in imperfect circumstances, He is good, faithful and merciful.
So don't make the mistake I did while going through a lean time. Don't get fixated on all that's out of whack in your life and how you're sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Count your blessings.
Have a Psalm 124:2 moment and say, if it had not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be?
Think about it.
As the saying goes, the more you think, the more you'll thank.
Now let's pray together.
God, circumstances are not always good in my life, but You are. So today, instead of complaining, I want to thank You for who you are, all You’ve done and what You will do. Even in imperfect situations, You are worthy of perfect praise. I give You glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time... may today's cup of inspiration uplift, encourage, and empower you!
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