On Thursday of this week my gas tank dipped to less than a quarter full. Now generally I try to keep it at a quarter full or more…but this week I wasn’t able to do that. So on the drive home from work I watched as the gas gauge in my car went down to half way between the empty mark and the quarter full mark. And as I watched it go that low, I began to wonder how I would be able to get to work on Friday and Saturday.
See the thing was, I had no money on me. Literally. No credit card to use. Nothing in my checking account at the time (waiting for pay day to hurry up and arrive). No cash in my wallet. Nothing. But I had to get to work on Friday and on Saturday. I had to get to work because if I didn’t come in my bosses would not have been happy (2 jobs, thus 2 bosses), as well as because not working meant making less money…and it was obvious that I was in need of some. So having gas to drive to work was important.
It is in situations like these that it can be very easy for us to start complaining.
We complain to ourselves about not having what we need when we need it. We might complain to God about not providing what we need even though we work hard to have money for these kind of things. Or perhaps we start to think crazy thoughts like “if only the world wasn’t so greedy, money wouldn’t be required to purchase things, and life would be so much better” (…or maybe I’m the only one that sometimes has these crazy kind of thoughts when I’m complaining…).
However we go about complaining, the reality is that it is very easy to complain in these kind of situations. We’ve all done it.
As I was wondering how I was going to get gas for my car so I could get to work, complaints began to come into my mind. And then I thought of something. I thought about how I had a place in my house where I had put some spare change. So when I got home I went and checked that place to see what I had.
$5. A $1 bill and $4 in quarters. I had $5 that I could use to buy gas.
$5 is not a lot of money at all…I was only going to get a couple gallons of gas out of that. $5 isn’t the kind of money people pray for when they are hurting financially and in need. Unless you are a little kid, $5 is not that exciting at all.
I didn’t think of this money as anything special…to be brutally honest, at first I was a little annoyed that it was only $5. But I knew I needed gas, so I took the money and hopped in my car to drive to the gas station to put a couple gallons of gas into my tank. I pulled up to the pump, turned off my car, grabbed all the change I had found, and walked inside to pay for the gas. After paying I walked back out to the pump and I put $5 worth of gas into my car.
It was while I was pumping the gas that I began to realize I was mistaking a blessing for a reason to complain…I was complaining about something for not being what I wanted it to be instead of seeing it for what it really was. Earlier I wasn’t sure how I’d get gas for my car, and now I was able to put $5 worth of gas into my car. I had been praying that God would provide for my needs when I didn’t have any money for gas, and now I was standing at a gas station putting gas into my car. Sure it wasn’t enough to fill up my tank, but it was enough to get me to work the next 2 days, and that was exactly what I needed.
How often do we mistake a blessing for a reason to complain? How often do we miss seeing that God is providing for a specific need because we want or expect something different than what we are given? How often could we be thanking God for taking care of us rather than complaining to him about not having what we want? How often do we mistake a blessing for a reason to complain?
In Matthew 6:25-33 Jesus tells us to not worry about our needs in this life, because he knows what we need. Instead, he tells us to keep our focus on God and seek to live for him in this life, and those things that we need will be given to us (passage below).
God knew what I needed, and he provided that need. He didn’t provide any extra, but he provided enough for what was needed in the moment. And once I realized that, I no longer had a reason to complain. I had a reason to thank God for blessing me.
May we not mistake a blessing for a reason to complain. May we have our eyes open to see how God is blessing us, and may we thank him for all of those blessings, big and little. May we remember to not worry about what we need, and instead may we keep our focus on God and seek to live for him, knowing that he will provide us with what we need. May we see $5 for gas as a blessing from a good God who takes care of us, and may we praise him for his blessings.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-33)