Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grumbling vs. Gratitude

Hey Friend,

I will be fair and clue you in.  I am writing this post to myself as I hear God speaking to my heart and I'm letting you listen in and read along.  I have a bad case of the grumbles most likely due to stress.  I woke up with a stiff neck from stress the night before and my jaw hurt, probably from being clenched all night.

You see, my beloved, four legged, sweet, senior gal, Zoe is almost 14 years old and has "doggie dementia".  Yes, dogs can have dementia just like people.  She can't hear and she can't see too well.  Physically, she's still in good shape...loves her short walks and can get up and down stairs.  She will even run with you for a short distance.  You can tell, though, that she is confused and disoriented at times.  When she's not sleeping she wants to be where I am and gets distraught if she doesn't see me. 

We get through the days okay, but around 3 pm., now with the time change, her anxiety increases.  She is clearly more disoriented, restless, and agitated.  She'll move around a lot and can't seem to find contentment and peace.  In people they call it "Sundowners Syndrome".  With dogs, though, they bark or vocalize.  It starts out as intermittent barking and then crescendos as the evening drags on.  By 8 pm. it's incessant.

 I love her dearly because she is so sweet.  I don't want to see her suffer. I know she's not doing any of this purposefully, but my husband and I begin to grow irritated and resentful.  It's a vicious cycle that repeats itself night after night.  We've tried every combination of medicine and natural remedies.

The problem is...there is no cure.  It is pretty certain that it will either stay the same or get worse.  I try to weigh whether it's more compassionate to let go or keep holding on because her good moments outweigh or at least balance the bad???  Clearly I am torn and it's tearing at my heart.  I don't like the moody, grumbling person I am turning into.  My spirit is clearly focused on the negative right now and I don't like being here. 

I asked God for wisdom and He very clearly led me to Psalm 103. 

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  (Psalm 103: 1-5, 8)

When I read this I want to cry because right now I am so inwardly focused on my misery and grumbling, but everything in these verses is so outwardly focused. 

Not only is it outwardly focused, but it is intrinsically good.

Instead of grumbling, David is offering up gratitude.  He repeats the word "Praise" three times.  He is actively thanking God for all of his blessings.  He is not dismissing or forgetting all the benefits that have come from His hand.  He is thanking and praising God from the depths of his soul.

Could outward gratitude be the antidote for inward grumbling???

I am then struck by God's outward and good deeds toward David.  David names several  action verbs that are outward and good intentioned...

He forgives all my sins, and heals all my diseases, He redeems me from the pit, and He crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires, and He renews my youth.

This makes me pause and think...if I were to tally my words of grumbling vs. my words of gratitude, how would I make out?  What would the tally reveal?  I believe it would reveal that...

An inwardly focused soul can be no outwardly good....and...

God is, indeed, good and I need to remember to thank and praise Him.

I am also struck by verse 8 and I read it over slowly emphasizing certain words...

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Unlike me, whose compassion toward, and love for my dog can quickly turn to irritation and resentment, God is not like that.  Let me say it again...

God is not like me...Praise! 

God's compassion never stops's endless.  His grace never dries's a perpetual pool.  He is ALWAYS slow to anger...never losing His temper.  God is abounding in love...His kindness toward me never fails.

Before I come down too hard on myself, I read verses 13 and 14:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who revere him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

What a relief to know that God has compassion on me...because He truly knows what a frail mortal I am. 

He knows that I am dust.

So where does this all leave me??  It is getting harder and harder to be outwardly focused on others.  It's getting more difficult to show compassion and love toward the weak.  Grumbling vs. gratitude continues to come from my lips.

I pray for my sweet baby girl to pass in her sleep because I don't want to have to make this decision. 

I want to have God's depth of love and compassion...but I don't want to play God...

So I pray for the strength and wisdom to deal with what is at the core of my grumbling.  I pray for the ability to show gratitude in the midst of trials. 

Life is not always black or white...sometimes pain and gratitude need to coexist. 

I pray for patience to let this be so, in my life, right now.

So I will offer up a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  I will ask for God's wisdom which He promises me.  I will sit with and celebrate the sweet companion God has given me for the past 14 years. 

And when the time is right...I will pray her on....

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for leading me lovingly to your word when I am struggling.  I praise you and thank you for your never ending grace, compassion, and lovingkindness toward me.  I am so thankful that you are not like me...Your ways are so much higher.  I can't even comprehend the depth of Your love toward me.  Where there is confusion in my life, give me Your wisdom.  When my heart is grumbling, bring to mind gifts to be grateful for. More than anything, Lord, give me Your peace that passes understanding.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. I am seeking compassionate hearts to bring some measure of joy to the orphans and destitute children who find refuge at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.  I have trouble picturing a child not getting a single gift for Christmas.  Will you help me bring a gift to each of our 30 precious children this year?  A Gift of only $25. will make that happen.  We are still a ways off from making this a reality and I'm asking for your help.  One Christmas meal.  You can make that happen...

Please send contributions soon to:

Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

PRAISE: for our attorney who is a godsend and walking us through the filing process for 501c3 non-profit status.  God is indeed good!

For more on Redeemer Christian School visit my "MISSIONS" tab.