But Jesus Died for Me

... But Jesus Died for Me
Author: Kim Sheets, Senior Graphic Designer
Freely Given - Part 1
We live in a world bustling with distractions and hardships; the concept of gratitude is being lost. Gratitude is not just a feeling of thankfulness but a state of being. It is a choice we make in spite of our circumstances. It is the intentional recognition of our blessings, both big and small.

One example of ingratitude from the Bible that comes to mind is found in the Old Testament when the Israelites traveled through the wilderness after being released from slavery in Egypt.
The people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.’
— Numbers 21:4b-5

Gratitude is not just a feeling of thankfulness but a state of being. It is a choice we make in spite of our circumstances.

Rather than being grateful for their newfound freedom, the Israelites were disappointed in the wilderness as their new location. They complained first that there was no food and, in the next breath, expressed disdain for the manna God provided to meet their nutritional needs. This group focused only on the circumstances they felt were unsatisfactory rather than choosing to focus on the ways God had blessed them through their deliverance from bondage.

Are we that different from the Israelites? Quite often, we find ourselves in daily routines, in comparison traps, and in striving for greater [you fill in the blank].

When we intentionally cultivate gratitude, our outlook shifts. Challenges become opportunities for growth. Obstacles morph into pathways for resilience. We learn to appreciate the beauty in the mundane and see the grace our Creator extends to us moment by moment.

Let me fabricate a scenario. You are on a job search, apply, and then get interviewed. Excitement ensues, and you pray and ask family and friends to pray along with you. Congratulations! You landed the dream job and are so grateful to God. Months, perhaps years, go by, and you notice the workload you carry is unfair. Coworkers seem to get away with less than you would expect. You become disgruntled, and then, to your shock, that coworker is promoted. All the gratitude you once held for your job is lost, even though outside of your comparisons and opinions, your position and value remain.

I believe it goes back to our heart and seeing through a lens of gratitude. So what happened to the Israelites with their ungrateful attitude?
Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people so that many people of Israel died. The Israelites recognized the error of their ways and repented saying, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us."
— Numbers 21:6-7
God did not take away the serpents but instead made a way for the people to survive. Numbers 21:8 continues, "The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’”

Moses obeyed God’s command and the people were saved, having learned the lesson not to be ungrateful for the ways God has provided.

We all struggle with a mindset of gratitude. Some time ago, I read a devotional concerning our attitude when facing times of grumbling or hardship. The writer said to acknowledge your state of ingratitude and then follow it with, ‘...but Jesus died for me.’ The end of the ‘serpent story’ supports this.

The serpent on a pole remains a symbol for us today. Jesus connected His death on the cross with this powerful symbol of rescue from the consequences of sin.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
— John 3:14-15
Praise God for such a gift of mercy as we learn to live with a daily mindset of gratitude. Are you currently in an ‘opportunity for growth’ situation? If you are struggling to shift your mindset to the positive, remember ‘...but Jesus died for me.’  
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