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Welcome back for Part 2 of Heart Choices, about examining and changing our attitudes so that we can better love and serve our neighbor. In Part 1 we learned that attitudes are patterns of thinking, choices of the heart, that are formed over a long period of time. We also were reminded that if you truly want to change a wrong attitude, you must admit you chose it in the first place! It is not enough to simply rid ourselves of a negative attitude. We must replace it with a positive attitude, lest the old negative one creep back in and take a firmer hold than before.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” ~Matthew 12:43-45 ESV
First let me state that honestly opening your heart and crying out to God regarding your circumstances is perfectly fine. In fact, I believe He eagerly awaits it from us so that He can provide courage, strength and comfort. A true lament occurs when our crying out to God comes from a place of faith…faith in His love and provision. It becomes complaining when we cry out against God. When we minimize our blessings and magnify our negative circumstances, our attitude becomes one of complaining. We are in essence telling God His plan is worthless, and that we would be better off without Him.
We see in Exodus chapters 15-17, after God miraculously brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and continuously provided for them in the way of miracles, guidance, food and water that they easily fell into the habit of complaining and murmuring against God. A little bit of thirst, a little bit of boredom with their food and they seemed to forget His provision for them. Their memories of Egypt became distorted, and they even told Moses that they would have been better off if God had just left them in Egypt. Really?
I love how Jeff Manion states it in his book The Land Between. “Trust evicts complaint. Trust and complaint are incompatible roommates. One inevitably pushes the other one out.”
The best way to replace an attitude of complaint is with one of thankfulness. When we view God as our merciful, gracious provider we realize how much we truly need Him and our dependence on Him produces faith. When we focus on our blessings, instead of negative circumstances, our thankfulness increases. Studies have shown that being truly thankful and living lives of gratitude is actually good for our physical health as well as our emotional well-being.
Thankfulness is a choice…one of the most important Heart Choices we can make. Many places in the Scriptures remind us to be thankful to the Lord. I encourage you to read Psalm 107 as one of those examples.
I am so thankful for all of the many blessings He has given me, both big and small. Even when we face trials, the negative circumstances, those are times when He is telling us to trust Him…to count on His character and love for us. What can you be thankful for today?
Speaking of being thankful…congratulations to Ruthie, the Interrupted book giveaway winner chosen by random.org!! An email has been sent, please reply with your mailing address so I can send you your prize!
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Besides the Scriptures and prayer, these are 2 great references used for this subject:
The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions, by Jeff Manion. Zondervan 2010. ISBN 978-0-310-32998-5.
Lord, Change My Attitude: Before It’s Too Late, by James MacDonald. Moody Publishers 1982. ISBN 978-0-8024-3439-5.