My heart is the biggest obstacle between me and God

I hate going to the dentist. Not because I dislike my dentist. No! I love my dentist and everyone who works for him. I’ve been going to the same dentist since 1991, and we’re practically family. But what I don’t like is the scraping and the stabbing and all the other dentist-y things that have to go on during a routine checkup. But yesterday, when I went in for my six-month checkup, I couldn’t help feeling this overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I’m changing insurance next year. Rate increases are forcing me to switch to a policy with a less expensive monthly premium, and I’m not sure what kind of dental insurance I’m going to have for 2016. I’m not worried. This is just giving me another chance to let God take care of something that’s bigger than me, but for yesterday, I got to go to the dentist and have my teeth checked, and my insurance paid for it.

Funny, the things you’re thankful for, isn’t it? I never used to think twice about going to the dentist. I mean, I had great insurance, and that was fantastic. And it wasn’t that I felt entitled to it. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful or unappreciative. I just didn’t think about it.

I don’t like going to the dentist, but God provided a way for me to do it this year. I’m praying He’ll make a way for me to be able to go to the dentist next year, but that ball is in His court. And I’m leaving it up to Him. Either way, I’m thankful.

A panoramic x-ray of my teeth

A panoramic x-ray of my teeth

Today’s verses are Colossians 3:15-17.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

November is the month we all start thinking about gratitude. You know, the 30 days of thankfulness bit you see strewn across social media? Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great idea, but I do wish it were more than just a month of focusing on what we’re thankful for. It should be 365 days a year.

And everything people usually list that they’re thankful for are good things. Thankful for good jobs. Thankful for family and friends. Thankful for provision. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We should absolutely be thankful for the good things in life, but shouldn’t we also teach ourselves to be thankful for the bad stuff too? After all, the bad stuff in life is just another opportunity for God to show how powerful and how faithful He is.

But it’s not easy to be thankful for the bad stuff. It’s not easy to look at the horror and the evil and the darkness around us and be grateful. I mean, maybe we can be grateful that we’re not apart of it. Maybe we can be grateful that we’re all safe and sound in our comfortable little Christian bubbles. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

We need to be able to look at the rotten stuff we’re going through and be thankful for it. Genuinely, actually, deeply thankful.

Are you sick? Be thankful, because God is the Healer. Are you alone? Be thankful, because God is your Friend. Are you hungry? Be thankful, because God is your Provider. Are you scared? Be thankful, because God is your Refuge. Are you under attack? Be thankful, because God is your Shield. Whatever crap you’re facing today, be thankful, because God is God, and you aren’t. And if you keep holding on to Him, He will take care of you. He’ll make your path straight. He’ll show you where to walk in the darkness. He’ll give you food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear.

Our world is broken. And it’s not getting better. It won’t get better until Jesus comes back for us. But God is bigger than the world. He’s stronger than the troubles overwhelming me. But before my circumstances can improve, I have to take a step. I need to start seeing my difficulties right now as blessing.

My heart, my perspective, my attitude–they’re the biggest obstacles between me and what God is already doing in my life.

I don’t deserve an easy life. I don’t deserve to be blessed in any way. God doesn’t owe me anything. Yet He has promised to take care of me, and He never breaks His Word. So even if everything in my life goes wrong, I can still be thankful, because He is my God, and I’m never alone.