Trisha is the author of "Everyday Worship: Our Work, Heart and Jesus". A blogger for The Resurgence, and a biblical counselor and women’s leader at Mars Hill Church. She is the wife of Pastor Mike Wilkerson who oversees Redemption Groups at Mars Hill. They are the parents of four young children and make their home in Seattle, Washington.
What about what I want?
My day is not going like I planned. I have already had to switch around the schedule twice. I didn’t sit down to write as soon as I had hoped. My desire to study has been thwarted. My alone time (away from my sweet but needy children) is going to be half of of my planned time. My desires are disappointed. I am tempted to grumble. As the Holy Spirit prompts my heart, I am slightly aware of this soul temptation. If I am angry enough, I just might throw a fit (my unfulfilled desires might give birth to sin).
Desires and disappointments aren't sinful.
In that moment when our hearts squeeze that desire tighter, we’ve become discontent and full of grumbling because we did not receive what we wanted. Discontentment and grumbling are best friends. They speak the same angry language. They yell: God doesn’t have a good plan for me after all! We may throw a bitter, silent fit in our heart, or flat out scream. Both represent a heart that is angry—ultimately at God.
We desire; we get disappointed; we feel discontent; then we demand.
Fighting against grumbling is a daily and ongoing battle, yet can be won. We must remember who God is and who we are. We can exchange grumbling for gratitude if we have a firm belief in who God is. As we see God as a Holy King, yet personal and loving us like a faithful daddy, we can take a sigh of relief, knowing He is working out the details. Grumbling is the opposite of this restful knowledge, nervously doubting God’s goodness. If, in the face of disappointment, we remember our loving daddy is still present with us, gratitude flows from our hearts. We see His faithfulness instead of allowing disappointment to arouse grumbling. Humbled, our desires shift.
Replacing grumbling with gratitude.
Gratitude is about sweet awareness of God’s fatherly concern over our lives. When we interpret the details of our lives with firm belief that he loves us, we are more likely to be grateful instead of grumbling. We will not grow in gratitude if we resist the truth that God is a Father who delights in His children.
At the intersection of disappointment, we can either believe God’s way is good or demand that our way is better.
But, there is another way for my heart: I can realize the disappointment and still know who God is. I must combat my disappointment with belief. Has God abandoned me? No. He loves me and is present with me. I am not defined by my unfulfilled desires. Instead of grumbling and demanding, I must remember who my God is. This is worship, friends! As Jesus fills me with gratitude, I remember that these good desires are to be held loosely, because my biggest desire of all is to enjoy Jesus. Redeemed desires!
A joyful heart that enjoys God and grows in gratitude is one that resists the sin of grumbling with its foundation of unbelief. Believing and remembering God’s steadfast love bring gratitude, and He delights in us! We get to rest in God’s steadfast love.
But the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. (Ps 147:11)
We can, because of God’s abundant grace, resist grumbling and instead worship Jesus with gratitude. We grumble when we forget God’s goodness and nearness to us. So, let’s cultivate gratitude for Jesus’ constant love for us, and worship.
Remembering our dependence on past mercies kindles gratitude. Gratitude is past- oriented dependence; faith is future-oriented dependence. Both forms of dependence are humble, self-forgetting and God-exalting. If we do not believe that we are deeply dependent on God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude and faith runs dry. —John Piper
Piper, John. A Godward Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1997), p. 46.