For a season I carried around an attitude like I deserved what I was asking God for. I had obeyed Him, I was serving Him, I had sacrificed for Him, so God owed me. Especially when the thing I wanted seemed noble, good, and “for His purposes”.
“Of course God will come through”, I thought. “Doesn’t He want me to be a better mom or a better friend? Why wouldn’t He want me to succeed, doesn’t He want more people to come to faith?”
But when God closed a door I asked Him to open or when circumstances didn’t bend my direction, I found myself angry and frustrated. (Often it’s our response to not getting what we want that reveals our true heart.) Instead of trusting God with the situation, I tried to strong-arm Him to get what I wanted.
I never won.
Underneath the facade of what I flaunted as faith, God saw an ungrateful heart.
And an ungrateful heart will never please the heart of God.
Yesterday two of my kids came to ask me for something.
- One of them resulted in me stopping what I was doing, giving up two hours on a Saturday evening, and costing over fifty dollars. Everything we bought fell in the category of “need”, but this child offered to help pay. “It’s okay, I can buy socks”, I responded as we waited in the check-out line at Target. In that moment, this child’s heart was filled with gratitude- and they didn’t even have to utter the words “thank you”. It was loud and clear.
- The other child came to me demanding I buy them something that probably cost less than ten bucks. I quickly reminded this child they have a large sum of cash stashed away that can be used to buy things they want. “But…” and they gave plenty of reasons why I had to be the one to buy it. That interaction didn’t end well on their part. In that moment, this child’s heart was ungrateful. It was loud and clear.
Gratitude affects our attitude.
Entitlement affects our attitude.
Sometimes the difference is glaring, other times it’s subtle, barely noticed without a little discernment.
It’s hard to be who God wants us to be when we think we deserve something from Him. It’s hard to do something significant for God when we think God owes us something. If God had given me the things I asked for with an attitude of entitlement, it would have only continued to feed that attitude.
But God is patient. He watched me pitch a fit and throw a temper tantrum when I wanted things my way. He waited for me to submit to Him, and then took me on a journey of understanding what true gratitude really looks like. The faux ‘attitude of gratitude’ had to be exchanged for the real stuff. It was the kind of gratitude that brings one to their knees because they see the disparity between what they’ve been given and what they deserve.
God didn’t give me what I wanted, He gave me what I needed. For a season I needed to struggle and come to terms with certain truths about who He is and the reality of life in a fallen world. Life isn’t fair, people are fickle, the bad guy gets ahead, but God doesn’t owe me an explanation. He doesn’t owe me thing.
God doesn’t act on my timetable, and He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t have to come through in the way I want or give me anything I ask for. And in all my passion to please Him, I had to accept these truths. God is not subject to my demands. I deserve nothing; I owe Him everything. It wasn’t until I could understand these truths that my heart was postured to received more from Him.
I’d love to say that once you “get” it, you never go back, but I’d be lying. In moments of weakness I feel entitled and deserving. I’m reminded time and again that it is God who gave me life and breath. Every day is a gift, and whether things go my way or not, He deserves my gratitude for every sunrise, every sunset, and good moment in between.