What a Gumball Taught Me About Gratitude
“When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” John 21:21-22 (ESV)
“I can’t wait to get a gumball! And I promise, mom, I’m going to be happy with whatever color I get!”
My daughter’s big, blue eyes sparkled as we headed into our favorite pizza restaurant — one with a gigantic, old-school gumball machine. Try as they might, my children were unsuccessful in controlling what color that bright-red machine spit out, which regularly led to epic meltdowns.
But on this day, I was pleasantly surprised by my daughter’s resolve to avoid such a meltdown and gratefully accept whatever color she got. And, when a shiny blue treat wound its way down, she did indeed happily accept it and start chomping away.
All was calm … until her little sister’s quarter produced the prized and highly coveted reward among little girls: a glistening, pink gumball.
Cue the water works. As my youngest danced with glee, her big sister wailed like her heart might break in two: “But I wanted piiiiiink!”
I spent the next 30 minutes consoling her while also concealing the frustration I felt. Wasn’t it just a gumball? But on the quiet ride home, the Lord spoke deeply to my heart: When it comes down to it, you’re really no different.
For isn’t this just like us? We’re content and grateful … until we start looking around. We give thanks for what we have … until we scroll social media and see what others have. Suddenly, our “gumball” doesn’t look so appealing.
Comparison begins its ugly churn inside our hearts. We start thinking life would be a whole lot better if only we had her job, marriage, children, house, looks, etc. Before we know it, we too are wailing about what someone else has.
The Gospel of John records a similar situation among Jesus’ disciples. In Chapter 21, we see Jesus reinstate Peter by granting him a fresh commission after he’d tragically denied his Savior.
The bad news was this commission came with a less-than-desirable ending: While Peter would have an incredible, decades-long ministry, he would ultimately follow in his Savior’s footsteps and experience death on a cross.
In our key verse, we see Peter comparing his lot to those around him. Even though Peter had been given the steadfast love and forgiveness of his Savior and the promise of a fruitful ministry, he honed in on the fate of John, the “beloved” disciple:
“When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” (John 21:21-22).
Ouch. In His gentle yet unwavering way, Jesus directed Peter’s gaze and gratitude back to Himself. He gave Peter the reminder we desperately need, too: God’s job is being God. Our job is faithfully following Him on the path before us — bumps and all.
When we, like Peter, take our eyes off Jesus and focus on the gifts we see others receiving, we fall smack into the enemy’s trap. Like my young daughter, we lose sight of the good and gracious gifts God has given us. Instead, we begin believing the lie that everyone else has it better.
Dear one, God is unflinchingly good to each and every one of His children. He is not unjust, unkind or prone to favoritism. We must let Him be God while we simply follow after Him with a grateful, trusting heart.
The difficult but liberating truth is it’s irrelevant what color “gumball” someone else has. Keeping our gratitude vertical sets us on a path of peace and contentment.
Today, let’s fix our gaze on our loving, generous Father and lift up praise for all He has done. Let’s cling to the truth that, “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9, NIV).
There is so much to be grateful for if we have eyes to see it.
Heavenly Father, thank You for lavishing good gifts on me. Forgive me for comparing, and help me to simply follow You. May I keep my gratitude pointed upward! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Chronicles 16:34, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (ESV)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV)
In a world saturated with opinions and loud with conflicting information, you are longing for … truth to steady you … wisdom to guide you … peace to quiet your soul. We exist to equip you to know the Truth and live the Truth because it changes everything. Will you join us so we can continue to equip you with the resources you need? Click here to learn more!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are you grateful for today? Even if your circumstances are less than ideal, how has God blessed you in the midst of it? Share with us in the comments!
© 2020 by Meredith Houston Carr. All rights reserved.
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