Do you ever experience a period of time in which the same idea, thought, or word seems to be in everything you read and hear? Doesn’t it scare you? As in, “Shoot. Now it’s obvious that God is trying to get my attention, and the process of learning and growing may be hard and ugly.”
I’m having one of those weeks.
And I’m grateful for friends, including my husband, who will listen as I work to process difficult things.
My buzzword this week is entitlement. I’m seeing it everywhere; so much so that I now see it in my mind, plastered to the very forefront of my brain in bold red letters.
From Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, a book I read with some ladies from church:
“When we take simple blessings for granted as if they were owed to us, or conversely, when we start to think that our house, our car, our wardrobe, or our general station in life is beneath what we deserve, ingratitude finds all the oxygen it needs to thrive” (p. 55).
“Ungrateful people tend to hold tightly to their rights. And when others fail to perform the way they want or expect them to, they feel justified in making demands and retaliating emotionally” (p. 88).
“Arguably the most affluent, materially blessed people in the history of the world, we have become angry, bitter, proud, and ungrateful. We have gotten this false sense of entitlement and the entirely unbiblical idea that God owes us ease and luxury or at least the chance to go for two weeks without having to deal with this one particular matter that is so difficult or discouraging” (p. 157).
From Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye, a book I’m reading and discussing with my friend Cassie via weekly long-distance phone chats:
[Referring to some Christians the author is associated with in Uganda:] “They are somehow able to be grateful for every offering without being offended or angry that there is not more. Everything that comes their way is a gift from God; they are not burdened by a sense of entitlement. God does not owe them something, and even in the midst of devastating circumstances, they find reason to give God thanks.
…When we have more, we have more to lose. When we have more to lose, we have more to fear. The attitude of entitlement saps us of our ability to give thanks, to receive the goods of life as gifts.”
And from an unpublished manuscript I’m currently proofreading:
“We are encouraged to believe that we are entitled not to suffer, that we should be able, somehow, to transcend the pain associated with loss, death, grief and mourning.”
Entitlement to material possessions; to ease and comfort; to health and smooth sailing; to right relationships; to the perfect job or the flawless appearance; to bigger and better and more, more, more. This theme has struck me with such force this week that I felt the need to sit down tonight and ponder it — to think about the areas of my life where this sense of entitlement is preventing me from being grateful for what I do have. In one gift alone, in the gift of Jesus, God has given me more than I deserve; more than I could ever have the audacity to ask for. And yet, farther beyond that, he has put in my life — in my current circumstances — blessings upon blessings even in the most mundane aspects of my day. And I don’t merely mean material items, though I have too many of those to count. I mean relational and spiritual and physical blessings as well. And even the challenges I’m facing, the things that overwhelm me with their urgency, can be perceived as blessings from a heart that is grateful: “Everything that makes me need God is (ultimately, in the truest sense) a blessing” (DeMoss, p. 139).
I don’t have a right to a comfortable and cushy life. If I am given these things, they are gifts to be received. And I hope that these things I’m reading and processing will burrow deep down in my heart in a way that challenges me to interact with people, pursue opportunities, parent my children, love my husband, and live in my home and my community all from a sense of gratitude, and not entitlement.