Faith: Finding it's hard to gripe and give thanks at the same time
Last updated 6/14/2022 at 3:45pm
I feel like I’m writing this particular column about five months early. It’s the kind of thing that I’d normally center on just before Thanksgiving.
As I write, it is not Thanksgiving. It is not November. It is mid-June. We’ve not even reached the summer solstice yet. This year, that astronomic event officially occurs at 3:14 a.m. Tuesday (MDT). Set an alarm on your phone.
But it certainly feels like summer. We hit 108 degrees a day ago. The plants in my yard were drooping into depression and flirting with death. Then we cooled to a high temp of 103. I call that “hellish.”
Not. Even. Officially. Summer.
My heartfelt prayer is simple: Let it snow! Though I may be feeling distinctly bear-ish and grouchy about such ridiculous temperatures, I do agree with them — bears, I mean — about hibernation, but I’d come at it in reverse. I’d try to hibernate somewhere nice and cool during the hottest days of the summer. I’d snooze through the convection oven days blissfully dreaming of civilized temperatures, pristine ski trails, and snowball fights with the grandkids.
Reverse hibernation. Much to commend it, I think.
It’s possible that a significant portion of the ravings above might sound grouchy to you. They sound grouchy to me, too, a fact which, of course, tilts me toward a dive into even deeper grouchiness.
I still remember one occasion when a sweet little granddaughter explained to another sweet little granddaughter: “PawPaw’s cranky today.” I remember because “grouchy” and “grandkids” are rarely in the same universe with me. It was not a great day.
Surely you’ve noticed this. What ticks you off more than realizing how little reason you really have to be ticked off? Griping was meant, by Satan, I suppose, to be momentarily pleasurable. It’s like picking a scab. Squeezing a pimple. Nursing a grudge. We’ll chance an infection, flirt with hardening of the heart, because it feels good at the time.
But a realization that my grouchiness is thin-skinned, dim-witted, and petty messes with its poisonous pleasure. It’s annoying when, with the words of Scripture and the pointed prompting, I think, of the Holy Spirit, our Creator quietly but powerfully piles on. A few pointed Bible verses begin buzzing around your head like benevolent mosquitoes (what a concept!) threatening to sting you back into a better mood. You’d rather just swat them away and enjoy being grouchy, but on they buzz.
Worse: “Be thankful in all circumstances.”
Still worse: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Worst of all: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
And that is how I land in a much-needed but not very welcome “Thanksgiving in June.”
I’m griping about the vicious heat and gripping drought. And then I remember the people whose hearts are broken right now in Uvalde. Then I think of Ukraine and the senseless devastation and pain. Schools and hospitals being bombed. An evil and malignant dictator and his thugs.
No bombs are falling on my head or tanks rolling down my street. I’m not devastated over the loss of a little one.
And I am forced to admit (forced is the right word) that my Father is right. A person — even a person like myself, unusually gifted at griping — cannot possibly gripe and give thanks at the same time. No one can pull off that sort of twisted spiritual ambidexterity.
Our Creator, well aware of this truth, makes it pretty clear that we (I’ll pull you into the same boat I’m in) must choose. Be it November, June, Thanksgiving or Ground Hog Day: griping or gratitude. Which will it be?
I’m tempted to get cranky thinking about it.
Curtis Shelburne writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at: