I was just thinking about Mark 9, where Jesus is about to cast an unclean spirit from a boy who has been inhabited by it for years. Jesus has just seen the boy convulsing and asks: “How long has this been happening to him?”
The boy’s father answers “since childhood,” and explains a little more about the nature of his affliction. Then he asks Jesus “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus responds “’If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes.”
The father realizes who he’s talking to and says, “I believe! Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:20-24)
I think that’s how we are with gratitude sometimes. Our kids are ungrateful, and we throw up our hands. Or we’re ungrateful if the circumstances aren’t to our liking. We tell ourselves we don’t have anything to be grateful for, because life is too hard.
Sometimes it is hard, and in those times it can be difficult to feel gratitude. And we forget what we believe and who we believe in.
That happened to me over the past few months, and one day it occurred to me to say “I believe, help my unbelief.” Or perhaps said another way, “I’m grateful, help my lack of gratitude.” Which really means help my selfishness.
God has been allowing me to know I have plenty to be grateful for.
Life can and will be extremely hard at times. Sometimes things are profoundly dire, and it can seemingly go on forever. It can eat up the years, and what we are left with sometimes is a crappy attitude and a huge pile of years and wounds and lies we believe about God.
Then we have Joel 2:25, which is not exactly the most commonly used verse of encouragement in scripture. But God has promised restoration. “I will repay you for the years the locust has eaten…”
Belief can be restored.
Gratitude can be restored.
The vast pile of years, destroyed by the locusts of life and littering your life with desiccated corpses, can be restored.
Not by you, man. Not by anything you’ve done.
Years don’t magically return. You’re still old, and you’ve still had a rough life. Restoration is not the same as returned.
He will restore to us the years the locust has eaten. We can look forward instead of behind.
All things are possible for one who believes.