November 22, 2008 in Features

Dark times provide the contrast that helps us see

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Without contrast, life gets pretty boring.

I learned this as a youngster shortly after my parents gave me a tiny, black-and-white television set for Christmas one year.

Without contrast, the clarity of the picture on that little TV was obscured. It didn’t take me too long to appreciate the value of contrast.

In all of life we need contrast. The distinction between ease and struggle, health and sickness, plenty and want, has a tendency to bring clarity to what really matters.

Thanksgiving approaches us in a year that has seen unprecedented economic turmoil. We are a nation at war across the globe. Politically we are as divided as ever. It seems the perfect climate for anxiety, worry, discontentment.

I mention this not to lay a guilt trip on us all to “buck up and be thankful.” It’s just that God’s grace, love and salvation stand out in sharper contrast when viewed against life’s struggles.

We truly can be thankful for these times because they help us see God’s blessings in greater clarity. He has provided a much-needed contrast for those of us who tend to get bored with his blessings.

In the coming week, let’s take some time to slow down and consider God’s blessings, whether spiritual or material, and the impact that an attitude of gratitude can have on the world around us.

The Bible reminds us that “whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1:17 – NLT)

Our God is the giver of all good things and ever worthy of our gratitude. He is always good.

This morning’s sunrise – God painted it.

The warmth of family – God created those relationships.

The sweetness of a child’s laughter – that was God’s idea.

And when those temporal joys are not present, we see God’s spiritual blessings even more clearly.

The Apostle Paul wrote some of his most joyful words of gratitude from a prison cell. He said to the Colossians: “I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light. God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free.” (Colossians 1:12-13 – CEV)

Christian friend, on your worst day you are a child of God, saved by grace, living a life that is very much a stopover on your way to heaven.

Once again, the words of Paul encourage us: “For our present troubles are small and will not last very long. … So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – NLT)

Have you noticed that attitudes can be contagious?

We all know what a bummer it is to hang out with a friend or relative who does nothing but complain and lament all that is wrong with life. I pray this person is not seated at your table this Thanksgiving. May their number decrease!

Happily, the opposite also is true. The joyful gratitude of Christians is very much in view when Jesus says to us, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14 – NKJV)

No matter what is going on around us, let us be a people of thanks. Let the light of our gratitude to God be the much-needed contrast in a world so often darkened with discontent.

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church in Hayden, Idaho ( www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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