Learning to Not Take So Much for Granted
Recently I’ve been struck by how much I take for granted in life. Renae and I celebrated our 29th anniversary the other day and we reminisced over God’s faithfulness to us over the years. In the past days, then, I’ve thought more about our marriage, the kids, our health, our church, the freedom we have in the U.S., and the list goes on . . . realizing how blessed I am and yet how small my gratitude and appreciation to God for these things can sometimes be. Perhaps you can relate? Watching the news, I can’t help but think of the people suffering around the world because of violence, persecution, displacement, storms, disease, etc. It seems like almost everywhere you turn, there’s a tremendous amount of suffering taking place. From an earthly standpoint, many of these people have lost everything. It makes me realize that all of these things mentioned above, which we so easily take for granted, are not guaranteed.
I think it is good to recognize the things we take for granted. It can move us toward greater humility and dependence on the Lord. Sometimes God graciously turns on this light in our hearts and gives us an appreciation for the things we’ve been given. Sometimes though, the light of gratitude comes on only when we’re at risk of losing these things. For example, when we’re healthy, we don’t think about it much. But as we get older and experience health problems, we realize how much we took it for granted. The same with our safety or freedoms. Only until we begin to lose the freedom to do certain things do we realize its value. Strange as it sounds, it’s also easy to take our loved ones for granted. I’m guilty of that. When they’re around, we don’t always appreciate them. We disregard them or even consider them annoying. If you’re a teenager, this could be how you feel about your parents. If you’re a parent, well you know :). But oh how we miss them when they’re not around.
In Luke 12, Jesus tells a parable about a man who took a lot for granted. While the main point of the parable is to not place one’s trust in earthly possessions, I think it also teaches us not to take things for granted. Often the two go hand in hand. In the story, the man’s field yielded an abundant harvest. He was blessed. He had more than he knew what to do with. So he decided to build bigger barns to store his surplus grain. In vs. 19, the man said to himself “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” The tragic ending to the story, however, is that in vs. 20, God says “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” What this man did is common practice by the world’s standards, putting his future hopes in his abundance of grain or wealth. However, he never considered that tomorrow would never come. And so he took for granted the blessings of today.
Not taking things for granted can enrich our lives in several ways. It can help us to live in the moment and appreciate what God has graciously given us today including our family and friends, our jobs, our homes, our church, etc. It can also keep us from complaining about all the things that may not be going right in our lives (or at least reduce some of the complaining). Someone once said “Don’t think of the things you didn’t get after praying. Think of the countless blessings God gave you without asking.” Finally, it can lead to having a humble and grateful heart, one that submits to the Lord and gives thanks for His provision. As we navigate a troubled and restless world, let us be people who do not take for granted God’s everyday blessings to us.