Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places . . . Ephesians 1:3
I know that I’ve been blessed by God, and I know that I should always be filled with gratitude, but I don’t always feel thankful. When the world doesn’t go my way, I’m prone to frustration, anger, and resentment. At work recently, the schedule got busy and just didn’t go the way I thought it should. As it threatened to upset my plan for the rest of the day, I let those I was working with know that I was unhappy. I’ve got places to be. This must be fixed. I’m not pleased.
I later realized that my attitude trickled down to others, making the workplace kind of miserable. I decided that the next time it happened, I would choose a more constructive attitude and just get my work done. So, when it happened the next day, I reminded myself that I was thankful for a job and for the opportunity to help those struggling with addiction. My attitude and behavior were different and the change in the workplace was palpable. My attitude makes a difference. My attitude is my choice.
If anyone had reason to be frustrated and resentful at life’s circumstances, it was Paul. In the opening words of his letter to the Ephesians, he reminded them of God’s blessings. What he didn’t say, was that he was sitting in prison at the time, having been arrested simply for following God’s will. If anyone had reason to be angry, it would be Paul. He obeyed God and he suffered for it. Did he whine and complain? No. Rather, he basked in God’s spiritual blessings and reminded others to do the same.
How is that possible? What could Paul have had for which he could be thankful? He was in prison. Still, he found joy in his relationship with God, despite his circumstances. Even though his surroundings were miserable, he still had the most important thing in the world – something which no one could take away – his relationship with the Father. Paul invested so much in his relationship with God, that he found his entire life, joy, purpose and meaning in it.
These spiritual blessings aren’t only for apostles like Paul. This profoundly intimate relationship is meant for us as well. If we will daily abandon ourselves to seek our relationship with God, we too will be filled with a joy, purpose, and meaning that nothing and no one can take away. In our faith, we can experience life and peace despite our Earthly circumstances. Our attitude – and our joy – is our choice.