How we respond to the absence of milk might reflect how we respond to the presence of God.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.” Psalm 92:1-2
We had a discussion in my eighth-grade English class a few weeks ago about things that really frustrate us. One student talked about how annoying it is when you get out your bowl and your spoon, fill the bowl with your favorite cereal, and then open the refrigerator to find that there’s no milk.
When something like that happens, how we respond says a lot about our attitude. Often, pandemonium breaks loose.
NO MILK?? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MILK?? GOT MILK?? NO!!
We flush red in frustration. We want to smash our bowls. We want to bend our spoons with our anger, like an outraged Uri Geller. Next comes the grievances: “I barely got any milk!” Then the finger-pointing: “Who drank it all? Who failed to buy more?”
The feelings that rush through us when there’s no milk can be ridiculously out of proportion to what we feel when we have it. How do you usually react when you get out the milk for breakfast? If you’re like me, it can be summed up in one exclamation: “Meh.”
But suppose we responded to the presence of milk with the same zeal we feel in its absence. Instead of anger and frustration, imagine feeling joy: “Yes! We have milk!” Instead of airing our grievances, imagine sharing our gratitude: “Thank you, God, for giving us milk!” Instead of pointing fingers, imagine delivering praise: “Where’s Mom? There she is! [Delivers high-five.] Thank you for getting us milk!”
Let’s take it a step further. Imagine responding to the absence of milk with that same enthusiasm: “Well, there’s no milk today, but I had a great run! I can’t even remember the last time there was no milk. And I’m grateful, God, for the hope that one day — perhaps even as soon as tomorrow thanks to my wonderful mom — I might have milk again.”
Such an attitude would clearly help us cope with a lot more than milk. It would help us manage all of life’s daily troubles and injustices. We would be happier. Those around us would be happier. And, most importantly, God would be happier. He does not like it when we grouse and blame. He loves when we express gratitude and contentment.
The coming of Jesus Christ was called the good news for a lot of reasons. He showed us so many things to make our lives better, including how we can be joyful even under vexing circumstances. Why, then, do so many of us respond to bad news with passion and process the good news that constantly surrounds us with complacency?
One more piece of good news: changing our entire attitude is as simple as changing our minds, and the closer we get to God, the easier that change becomes.
“Welcome Morning” by Anne Sexton
This poem by Anne Sexton (1928-1974) brings to life the attitude of joy. I love how she turns her simple morning routines into an act of worship.
Those final stunning lines, “The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard, dies young,” are a life-changing lesson in themselves. I love poetry!
There are some intriguing insights in this article by Annie Holmquist:
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Wonderful, Jody! Thank you for sharing! I’m sure your youth group appreciates how fun and young at heart you are!