When I saw that Bridget Chumbley’s “One Word at a Time Blog Carnival” chose gratitude for today’s postings, I had a mixed feeling about it. It’s not that I’m not grateful for a lot of the things God’s done in my life but rather too often when I read about gratitude it’s written in a manner aimed at shaming the reader. For example, the websites and posts that talk about third world poverty that begin with telling you how rich you are and you should be grateful for it.
(Not that I’m against fighting third world poverty in any way. I’m just tired of people telling me that if I had my income in Africa I’d live like a king or how my income in the world makes me in the top X percent of wage earners world wide. I don’t live in Africa. I live in America. My electric bill isn’t suddenly going to be reduced just because in Africa my dollar would go further. Ask me to help because it’s what God called us to do rather than talking down to me because God decided I’d be born in America rather than Nigeria or Cambodia. If you want to see someone who can present the need in Africa without trying to shame you about it, check out Jenny Rain‘s blog. But I digress…)
I don’t know at what point Christians decided that you had to add the shame element to teach gratefulness but I wonder if that doesn’t sometimes hurt us a lot more than it helps us. For example, there’s a realm of gratefulness that too often I know I’ve missed the boat and that’s being grateful for the discipline of the lord.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.
For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Hebrews 12:7 (ESV)
The discipline of the Lord isn’t coming from a place aimed at shaming you into being grateful for anything but rather it’s aimed at making you grateful that you have a God who loves you so much that He would treat you as His son. While many times we jump to the position that God is punishing us (thus playing up shame) because of our sinful behavior or bad choices, in reality, God:
[D]isciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Hebrews 12:10 (ESV)
God is wanting to make us more like Him. His discipline has one goal in mind: make us better able to carry out His teachings to us through His son Jesus Christ.
So we should be grateful when God beats the ever lovin’ tar out of us. And we should rest in knowing we’re not the only one who’s had God be pretty harsh with us:
The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
Psalm 118:18 (ESV)
If I’m being honest with you, I didn’t have an attitude of gratefulness while going through the struggles of my last few weeks. When God opened my eyes to what had been happening, I was not shamed but very convicted by it and grateful for what He had done. (Realize that shame and conviction by the Holy Spirit are two very different things.) I realized that for too long I had equated discipline with shame and in the process missed changes to be truly grateful for what the Lord had given me…adoption as His son. Now, I’m thankful for the beating He gave me over the last few weeks because of where it’s brought me…closer to Him and in repentance for not trusting Him fully in both blessing and correction.
Have you found yourself in a place where you can’t really be grateful for discipline because shame seems to always be attached? How did you move past it?