Hypocrisy vs. Integrity

I don’t know how much you follow the news, but it seems to me that hypocrisy has gotten worse since COVID first hit nearly three years ago. Even though the COVID threat has largely abated, however, the hypocrisy continues. Two recent examples (not COVID-related) have especially caught my attention.

The first one was in November, when somewhere between 100 and 400 private jets, depending on the news source, flew delegates to the latest United Nations climate conference in Egypt. To be fair, the vast majority of the 33,000 participants did not get there by private jet. However, you would think that any public figure who is truly concerned about climate change–and attending such a conference!–would not take a private jet, for obvious reasons. John Kerry, who is “the first United States special presidential envoy for climate,” learned his lesson and flew commercial this time; in 2019, he was widely mocked for flying to Iceland by private jet to accept a–wait for it–climate change leadership award called the Arctic Circle Award. At the time, Kerry had defended himself, saying, “If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle.” This only increased the mockery. 100-400 other delegates to the Egypt conference two months ago haven’t learned John Kerry’s lesson.

The second example of hypocrisy, still ongoing, has to do with classified documents. You may recall that in August of last year, the FBI raided President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home to get back some classified government documents that were stored there. One question was whether Trump had declassified them, which is unclear because there is not a clear process for declassification. Regardless, the heavily redacted affidavit that was used to justify the raid reveals neither criminal intent nor evidence of obstruction on Trump’s part. In fact, “The FBI acknowledges the return of 15 boxes of materials and ongoing communications with Trump’s lawyers attempting to resolve any outstanding disputes regarding which, if any, remaining documents ought to be turned over. This would appear to provide evidence of cooperation with authorities, rather than obstruction.” This is according to Brett L. Tolman, a former U.S. attorney with a criminal justice career that spans decades. However, this didn’t keep historian Michael Beschloss from suggesting that Trump be executed; former CIA director Michael Hayden agreed.

Compare what happened at Mar-a-Lago with the discovery two months ago of classified government documents taken by then-Vice President Joe Biden and stored at the Penn Biden Center for over half a decade. The investigation is ongoing, but at least two things already stand out to me. First of all, the documents were in an insecure setting for more than five years. Second, these documents were taken by Biden when he was Vice-President. Only the President has the right to declassify government documents and thus take them. Leftist pundits in the news media had already tried to defend Biden’s taking of these classified documents by saying, among other things, that the documents are “a small number,” especially compared with the 300+ found at Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago. Oh, but wait, another box of classified documents taken by Biden appeared just hours ago at a “second location.” It’s obvious that we can expect more such documents to be found.

When I think about hypocrisy, I also think about its opposite, integrity. In its most basic sense, integrity means “wholeness.” I decided to Google “integrity,” and while most of the sites that came up were only about integrity in the workplace, a couple of them had a broader focus. Here are a few examples of integrity (with my brief commentary) taken from https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-integrity.html

  • Keep your promises, even if it takes extra effort. While I don’t use the word “promise,” (will you believe me if sometimes I say “I promise..” but at other times I don’t?), but I do use phrases like “I will” and “I can’t.” I want people to believe me when I say I will or can’t do something.
  • Inform the cashier he gave you too much change back. In today’s world, this is increasingly unlikely to happen; on the other hand, I often see older people pay with cash. I usually pay by credit, but in my life, there have been a couple times where I’ve done this. I’ve also informed the cashier when I didn’t get enough change!
  • Do not gossip or talk badly about someone. Gossip means that you have the desire to hurt someone. “Talking badly” about someone is something I have sometimes done with my kids (I have two grown “kids”) because I think it’s important for us to learn from negative examples. If there was a name attached, it was usually someone that I had talked to either directly or indirectly (e.g. to a parent of the person).
  • Ignore someone’s advice on how to cheat on your taxes and not get caught. This is not an area that I have ever struggled with, but I know some have.
  • Do not let someone else take the blame for something you did. I’m sorry to say that as a child, I did not adhere to this one at least once that I remember. However, I have confessed it to the Lord and been forgiven.
  • If someone gives you confidential information, never tell anyone what you know. This one has been hard for me at times, but I really try to adhere to it. It’s usually something personal, and sometimes I have been given permission to share it with my wife; at other times, I have shared something from longer ago without giving a name. However, for the deepest confidentiality with a friend, I have not shared it; I am honored when someone chooses to share something that deep with me.

What does the Bible say about hypocrisy? The Lord God has very harsh words to say to hypocritical religious leaders. This is especially clear in the words of Jesus, Who said, for example, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:13-15) As for political leaders, Romans 13:1 tells us, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” First of all, as Christians we are expected to obey those in political leadership. (There are exceptions, of course.) Second, because those authorities have been established by God, those individuals in leadership are accountable to Him. I have written more about religious and political hypocrisy; click here if you’re interested: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2020/11/12/religious-and-political-hypocrisy/

On the other hand, lest we believers who are neither religious leaders nor political leaders think that we are off the hook, here’s what James 1:22 says: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Let us all strive to be men and women of integrity, of wholeness and consistency, whose actions match our words.

More Keys to a Successful Marriage

A few months ago, I came across an article (written in April of this year) by Matt Christensen, offering marital advice from 25 people who have been married 25+ years. As my wife and I are just three days away from our 34th wedding anniversary, I thought now would be a good time to write about this.

Here is a quote from the first paragraph of this article: “We recently asked 25 people who have been married for 25 plus years about what makes their relationship work. Clichés didn’t enter the equation. Instead, their answers reflected a simple truth: long-term relationships are both easy and hard, but made better by honesty, fun, and a shared sense of unity.”

Rather than list all 25 pieces of advice, I’m going to mention what I think are the most important ones, with a quote and brief commentary on each. I will then add a couple of my own. I’m sequencing them not in terms of their importance, but rather in the order in which they appear in the article, which you can access here: https://www.fatherly.com/life/marriage-advice-from-couples-married-25-plus-years

  1. Imagine life without your partner. Jerry, age 56, who’s been married 30 years, says, “Life would be possible without each other, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun, special, or full of great moments.” Enough said!
  2. Do the work. Monte, age 64, has been married 40 years, and he says, “Opposites can create a great deal of conflict over time if you don’t learn how to accept them. It can be a difficult process, but it’s necessary to stay happily married long term.” Interestingly, my wife and I both came out with the same personality type on the Myers Briggs personality test many years ago, but scored very differently on the Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis. Regardless, we are very different in some ways, and yes, marriage requires work! That’s true whether you and your spouse are very similar or not.
  3. Bite your tongue. Romy, 52 and married 26 years, says, “My rule is: bite your tongue for at least 24-48 hours after before speaking when tensions are high. If you are overly emotional and/or upset about something, doing so gives you time to cool off and then reflect on the situation with greater space, perspective, calmness, and clarity. If you still want to talk about it, schedule a mutually agreed upon time to do so.” One thing I would add along the same lines is tiredness: Sometimes my wife and I have scheduled a time to talk, especially if one or the other of us is too tired at the moment.
  4. Ask for space when you need it. Curt, 64 and married 36 years, says, “We’re not shy with each other when we need a breather. Sometimes it’s just a few hours with a good book. Other times, one of us wants to get a coffee and run errands on a Saturday.” For a few years when our kids were growing up, my wife would take them somewhere overnight (usually to her parents’ place) to give me my annual “day off,” or as we like to joke about it: a day for me to accept passivity and reject responsibility! If you’ve read my manhood posts, you’ll understand this better.
  5. Learn each other’s love language. Gene, who’s 54 and has been married 28 years, says, “You can take the tests and stuff to figure out what each other’s love language is. That’s easy. The more fun part is finding out how you can try to speak to your partner using them every day.” My wife’s top two love languages and my top two are very different. Understanding these differences, and especially “speaking” them to each other, have significantly enhanced our marriage.
  6. Never assume. Christine, 51 and married 26 years, says, “No matter how connected you both may be, you’re not mind-readers. You need to communicate as clearly as possible, and as frequently as possible.” Had my wife and I understood this principle better early in our marriage, we would have had less conflict later.
  7. Nurture the friendship. William, 57 and married 30 years, says, “Not every conversation you have should be about life decisions, finances, or being married. I love my marital relationship with my wife, but I’d dare say I love our friendship more.” At a church we used to be a part of, one of our pastors (now in heaven) spent almost all of his time counseling. One very important distinction he made was between communication and conversation. The former is about decisions, schedules, and the like; the latter is about fun stuff! Any successful marriage needs both.
  8. Stay intimate. Natalie, 60 and married 35 years, says, “Intimacy is more than sex. And, as you get older, that’s a great thing to realize.” She gives the examples of holding each other’s hands and kissing. My wife and I agree!
  9. Show gratitude. Robin, who’s 60 and has been married 34 years, says a few words about how she and her husband are “overthankers.” While my wife and I do not “overthank,” we definitely thank each other! Yesterday, for example, after I drove us and three others back home for two and a half hours through rain and fog, my wife thanked me.
  10. Learn how to apologize. Robert, 63 and married 33 years, says, “Apologizing doesn’t necessarily mean you concede or believe what you did was wrong. It means that the situation resulted in something — like hurt feelings or miscommunications — that made your partner feel bad.” While I agree, I have to say that there are times when couples do and say things to each other that are just wrong; at those times, a heartfelt apology is necessary, and asking for forgiveness takes it a step further. For my wife and me, the best times of apology have been when the Holy Spirit has brought conviction and we haven’t even had to confront each other.

One piece of advice I would like to add is simply to laugh together. That’s easy because my wife and I both read and hear things that are just funny! We also like to reminisce, with each other and our kids, about fun and wacky experiences. Additionally, I like to tease my wife; for example, she sometimes parks too far to the front of the garage, making it hard to access the washer and dryer there, so I ask, “Can you park closer to the washer and dryer next time?” You have to know your spouse, however, because although this question invariably makes my wife laugh, it might infuriate your own wife or husband! One time when we were eating out during our first few months of marriage, I carefully removed one end of the paper covering the straw and then blew on the open end, shooting the paper at her. My friends and I used to have fun doing that to each other, but my wife let me know that she didn’t think it was funny!

As a Christian, the other piece of advice that I have is to grow together spiritually. Ways to do this in my own marriage have included attending church together; praying together; serving others together; and discussing the Bible and Christian books together.

A couple of notes about the title of this post. First of all, you may have noticed the word “successful” as it pertains to marriage. By this I mean not just staying married but enjoying each other’s presence. (I have been with couples who have been married a long time but who don’t enjoy being together.) A final note, in regard to the word “more” in the title: two years ago, I wrote a similar post, based on a different article that I had come across; it was based on interviews with couples who had been married at least 10 years. If you’re interested, you can check that out here: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2020/12/29/keys-to-a-successful-marriage/

If you have any more keys to a successful marriage, and/or thoughts on which key you think is most important, I would be very interested in reading them!

The “Foolishness” of Christmas

When I was a young Christian many years ago at a Christian college, one of my professors brought in an article for us to read; I believe it was called “Such Foolishness.” The author looked at 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and wrote about the “foolishness” of the Gospel, meaning that from the perspective of an unbeliever, the message of Christianity is indeed foolish; however, to believers, Jesus’ death and resurrection are our salvation. Verse 18 sums it up well: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” I don’t remember many of the specifics, but that concept has stuck with me all of these years.

Gore Vidal, who was an American writer, said back in 1992, “Christianity is such a silly religion.” Much more recently, in 2015, podcaster Joe Rogan ranted for 6+ minutes against Christianity, saying, “Christianity at the end of the day with no proof–everything is mythology.” In the same podcast, he said, “The whole thing is so stupid.” Both Vidal and Rogan exemplify the first part of 1 Corinthians 1:18, which is that Christianity’s message is foolish to unbelievers.

With the Christmas season very much upon us, I’ve been thinking about this more specifically in terms of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. On the most fundamental level, Christmas is about the Incarnation, meaning that God became man. From a secular point of view, this sounds foolish. Why would God become man? Why would He leave His heavenly realm to live among mankind? Taking it a step further, why would God choose to be born as a helpless baby? Added to that, why would Jesus enter the world at a dangerous time, when He would be relentlessly pursued by a bloodthirsty, power-hungy king (Herod) who was so bent on killing Him that “he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under”? (Matthew 2:16)

Another aspect of Jesus’ birth that I’m sorry to say even some churchgoers have found hard to believe is the fact that Jesus was born to a virgin, both because it required a miracle and because of what people would naturally assume about a woman being pregnant before marriage. Unbelievers naturally regard this as additional foolishness: the Son of God born to either a “virgin” or a loose woman! I have a relative who for many years found this to be a major stumbling block before he (thankfully!) came to faith in Christ at a very advanced age. Some Biblical interpreters have tried to explain away the virgin birth by saying that a “virgin” can refer to just a young woman, not necessarily one who has never had sex. However, Matthew 1:25 is very clear: “But he [Joseph] had no union with her [Mary] until she gave birth to a son.”

Thinking about the place of Jesus’ birth, you might expect that the King of the universe would be born into a palace, but not so. Luke 2:7 tells us that after Jesus was born, Mary “wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” When we look at nativity scenes, they look very sanitized, but if you think about it, what is a manger? It’s a feeding trough for cattle and horses to eat from. Now, I would imagine that Joseph did his best to clean out the trough for his baby son to lie in, but regardless, I don’t imagine that it was very clean. There may have very well been such animals there, as well.

When the message first went out about Jesus’ birth, it came through an angel of the Lord, which is what we might expect. However, this mighty angel appeared to “shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (Luke 2:8) Shepherds were not exactly the upper class of society; various writers have written descriptions such as their not being esteemed by society; others have written harsher things about them, such as their being despised by most people. They were usually treated as outsiders who were “almost never clean enough to worship with God’s people in God’s presence.” (Bill Sytsma) Like the place where He was born, this emphasizes our Lord’s humility, which again seems foolish to non-Christians. I should add, however, that in Matthew’s account, we are told in Chapter 2 that Magi from the east came to Bethlehem to visit Jesus; they were astrologers and/or astronomers. There are various ideas about who they were, but they may have been priests descended from the previous Medo-Persian empire. They were at the very least of a higher social class than the shepherds. Regardless of exactly who they were, God had revealed Himself to them and had shown them by “the star they had seen in the east” (Matthew 2:9) where to go to find Jesus. By this time, however, Jesus was probably at least a year old and was living in a “house” (Matthew 2:11) So, the Lord revealed Himself in the person of baby Jesus to the high and the low of society, but to the low first.

Beyond the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, of course, many other things have been said and written about the “foolishness” of Christianity. The culmination of this, of course, is in the death of our Savior, the sinless Son of God, by crucifixion. Again, the first part of 1 Corinthians 1:18 comes to mind: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” And then, of course, there is the miracle of the glorious resurrection, which to Christians is, among other things, the promise of our own resurrection one day, but which to unbelievers is more foolishness.

So yes, from a secular point of view, there is so much foolishness regarding the true meaning of Christmas, and by extension, the entire Gospel. Here is another wonderful verse from that section of 1 Corinthians 1, this time verse 21: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” Yes, the Lord saves those who believe the “foolishness” of the Gospel!

If you are reading this and are not a Christian, I pray that this Christmas season will be the time that you come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

(Two years ago, I made a quiz about Christmas that you may enjoy taking a look at; click here if you’re interested: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2020/12/16/a-christmas-quiz/)

Religious Observance in Western Europe and the U.S.

I recently came across an interesting article which was primarily about religious observance in western Europe, but which also compared that region with the United States. Even though this research is four years old, it’s still timely and points out some significant differences between these two geographical areas.

First of all, what is meant by “religious observance?” There were four measures of this in the study in terms of comparing western Europe and the U.S. Here they are, with percentages of professing Christians in western Europe (15 countries) and the United States who:

  • Say religion is very important in their lives: Western Europe 14%, U.S. 68%
  • Attend religious services at least monthly: Western Europe 31%, U.S. 64%
  • Pray daily: Western Europe 18%, U.S. 68%
  • Believe in God with absolute certainty: Western Europe 23%, U.S. 76%

It doesn’t take any rigorous statistical analysis to see the huge differences in religious observance between western Europe and the United States! Across the board, professing American Christians are significantly more religiously observant than professing western European Christians. The second stunning thing is that these are stats for professing Christians. A significant majority of professing American Christians, for example, pray daily (68%), while only a paltry 18% of professing western European Christians do the same. A word of caution is in order here, however; are American Christians praying to the one and only true God, the God Who has revealed Himself in Scripture? My fellow blogger and sister in Christ Ann, who goes by “Seeking Divine Perspective,” is in the process of writing a good series of posts entitled “Are You Praying to the Wrong Person?” Click here for the latest in her series: https://seekingdivineperspective.com/2022/11/25/are-you-praying-to-the-wrong-person-part-iv-fallen-angels/

Regarding the last stat mentioned above: Even the percentage of professing western European Christians who believe in God with absolute certainty is a paltry 23%, while in the U.S., the percentage is 76%. I should add that I would love to see corresponding stats for this question: “Do you read the Bible regularly?”

What does all of this mean? First of all, it’s very easy to say that you’re a Christian in the Western world; it is not easy if you live in a country with severe persecution. Second, these stats bring to mind what Charles Colson wrote and spoke about more than 30 years ago: that western Europe was post-Christian, meaning that it used to be largely Christian, but was not anymore. Now we can see that stark reality on display very clearly. Western Europeans who stopped identifying with a religion mentioned four primary reasons why:

  • Gradually drifting away from religion: 68%
  • Disagreeing with their religion’s positions on social issues: 58%
  • No longer believing in their religion’s teachings: 54%
  • Being unhappy about scandals involving religious institutions and leaders: 53%

I find the #1 reason especially enlightening; in so many cases, when people stop identifying with Christianity in the U.S., it’s because they have gradually drifted away; in other words, it’s not usually something that happens suddenly. (I mentioned this in a post in May about deconversion.) Regarding the second reason, you will not be surprised to learn that two social issues frequently mentioned were abortion and same-sex marriage. There are many other illuminating findings in this research study; I have only scratched the surface. If you’re interested in more, here’s the link: https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2018/05/29/being-christian-in-western-europe/

Perhaps as American Christians, we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back in comparison to western Europe. We might even think that we are a majority-Christian nation. However, since the actual percentage of American Christians is only 7.5% (!), we have no reason to be smug, to put it mildly. You can either read John Dickerson’s The Great Evangelical Recession for the research regarding this number, or you can just read something I wrote in 2020: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2020/05/07/how-many-christians-are-there-in-the-united-states/ I read a few years ago that Spain’s population was less than 1% Christian; I have also read the same about Slovenia (which is not one of the 15 nations included in the Pew Research study which is the focus of this post). It is not hard to believe that further research such as Dickerson wrote about would reveal similar, astonishingly-low, percentages of true Christians in other western European countries.

These statistics about western Europe should serve as a warning to us. Regardless of what happens, we are called to stand firm in our faith by living in obedience to God’s Word. Speaking of: If we are going to live in that kind of obedience, we need, first of all, to be in God’s Word regularly! Ideally, that would be daily, while for some of us, perhaps a few times a week. Regardless, we should certainly not rely only on our pastors’ faithfully teaching us every Sunday. Second, however, we do need to be in close fellowship with other believers, and one place that can certainly happen is at church. Third, we should be praying daily; in fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” I like even better the way the King James Version puts it: “Pray without ceasing.” If we are in the Bible, in koinonia (close fellowship), and in prayer regularly, we will be much better equipped to live the kind of obedient lives that our Lord calls us to, regardless of the overall spiritual condition of our nation.

More about Being Thankful vs. Complaining

A year ago, I wrote a post about being thankful vs. complaining. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, as well as preparing for my first sermon ever that weekend, I’ve been thinking about this contrast again. This year, I’d like to look at some examples from Old Testament Israel, especially focusing on the results of being thankful vs. grumbling.

Let’s begin with Exodus 16:2-3, where we read: “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’”  What makes this grumbling especially egregious is that this was almost immediately after the Lord had delivered the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt!

One chapter later, we read another example: “The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’  Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’  But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’”  Exodus 17:1-3 

In both of these cases in Exodus, the Lord was very gracious to the Israelites in spite of their grumbling.  In Exodus 16, He gave the people manna and quail; in Chapter 17, He gave them water.  Now, let’s look at Numbers 11:1-6: “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.   When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them. The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!‘”  This time when the Israelites complained, the Lord sent fire, which killed some of them.  However, they soon resumed complaining, asking for meat.  If you read the end of the chapter, you will find that the Lord gave them quail to eat, but He also sent a severe plague which killed some of them.  Verse 33 says they died “while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed.”  They didn’t even get to enjoy the meat which they had craved!  Sometimes in the Old Testament, the price of grumbling against the Lord was death.

What happened when the Israelites praised the Lord instead of grumbling?  Look at 2 Chronicles 20, where three nations gathered to fight against the Kingdom of Judah.  In verses 21-23, we read this: “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:  ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’”  As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.  The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.”  In this battle, notice that God’s people did not even have to fight their enemies!  The Lord caused their enemies to destroy one another.  What had God’s people done?  They had sung and praised the Lord, and as a result, He brought about a great victory!

How do we apply this to our daily lives? First of all, when we pray, do we bring to the Lord only a list of requests, or do we also thank Him? Second, how do we react to problems? Here’s an example: A couple of months ago, my wife was on her way to a conference when she was broadsided on the freeway by a guy who had also just broadsided another vehicle. You would think that traveling at 65 mph, serious injury would result. However, no one in any of the three vehicles was hurt. In addition, my wife’s vehicle was still drivable, so she was able to continue on her way to the conference. Were my wife and I thankful? You bet!

There are other examples I could cite as well; you can read a more-extended example in this post: https://keithpetersenblog.com/2021/11/17/being-thankful-vs-complaining/ One thing I have continually been thankful for over the years is the timing of problems; in other words, I expect to have them, but the Lord has been gracious in allowing them when I have the time to deal with them. Another thing I have been thankful for again and again is that the problems have not been more serious.

A special word about grief:  Over a period of ten months not too long ago, three of my siblings died.  Then this year, my father-in-law died as well.  Is it possible to be thankful in this circumstance?  My answer is yes, because all three of my siblings and my father-in-law were believers, which means they are now with the Lord.  Do I miss them?  For sure.  However, when I think of them in heaven, it’s impossible for me to be sad—for them.  One of my sisters, for example, was mentally handicapped from birth, but now she is free from that handicap, in the presence of the Lord.  My other two siblings suffered from dementia in their last few years, but now they are free from it, also in His presence.  As I said, I miss them, but I look forward to being reunited with them when the Lord takes me home! On the other hand, I recently talked with a relative whose husband had died.  Even though he was a believer, his widow reminded me that losing a spouse is different from losing a sibling.  Yes, it’s harder, and I acknowledge that.  In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine losing my wife; that would be very difficult.  However, we are both believers, and I know that even when we are parted here on this earth, we will see each other again in heaven.

In the immediacy of a problem, it can be difficult to be thankful; however, when we reflect on it, it’s usually not difficult to find things to thank the Lord for.  Are you a thankful person?  Am I?  Let’s be characterized by thankfulness to the Lord, not complaining.

Have a most blessed Thanksgiving!