I ended yesterday’s post with a question: If you had to pinpoint the biggest obstacle between you and living each day with a grateful spirit, what would it be? Over the next few days I want to break down a few of the biggest obstacles to living each day with an attitude of gratitude. When I asked myself this question the first obstacle that I came to was negativity.
One of the strongest examples of a negative attitude in the Old Testament is found in the book of Job. In the first two chapters of Job, Satan comes before God and gains permission to strip Job of everything he has- his land, his livestock, his livelihood, and all of his children until all that was left was his wife, but even when his health is taken from him, it isn’t Job that has a negative spirit- it’s his wife. In the Message version of Job 2:9 she says: “Still holding on to your precious integrity are you? Curse God and be done with it.” Job’s wife redirects Job from the positive, the fact that he is still alive, that he still has his relationship with God, and heck he even still has her! She then not only directs him to what he’s lost but tells him to throw what he still has away by blaming God and ending his life.
Negativity pulls my attention from what I do have, the blessing and goodness of God, and focuses it instead on what I don’t have. Have you ever had a day where you felt like Job? Like everything you had spent your life working towards had fallen apart right in front of you and there was nothing you could do to stop it? I know I have, but I think the worst thing about negativity is how it affects the people around us. If we jump forward to Job 3 we find that Job is no longer “holding on to his integrity” but he starts cursing the day he was born, beginning to sound an awful lot like his wife a few days before.
If instead of directing Job’s attention to what he had lost, Job’s wife had directed him to what he still had, if she had pointed out that even when the situation was bad God is still good and that even when he had lost everything else God was still sufficient maybe it wouldn’t have taken until Job chapter 42 for him to say the following: “I know that you (the Lord) can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted…Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wondrous for me to know.”
The first step towards having a thankful spirit is rooting out the negativity in our attitudes. As believers we should take Paul’s advice and take each negative thought captive as they come (2 Corinthians 10:5) and choose to redirect them towards what we do have, especially the knowledge that God is for us and not against us and that God’s will is for us to be blessed beyond what we can ask or imagine. But part of accepting that truth is accepting that God’s ways are not our ways and sometimes the path He has us on isn’t the one we should choose for ourselves. Let’s not be Job’s wife to each other. As sisters in Christ we should be coming up alongside each other and redirecting our attention away from the things we don’t have and helping each other to focus on the things that we do have. What negativity do you need to root out of your life this holiday season? Who is someone struggling with negativity that you can come alongside and encourage?