Author and pastor Mark Buchanan tells the story of his children on Christmas Day unwrapping mounds of presents from under the tree. They ripped the paper off the gifts and scattered the wrappings in all directions. The gifts were beautiful, but the children looked at each only briefly before putting it aside to move on to the next gift. When the ransacking had finished, one of the children stood in the midst of the boxes and brightly colour wrapping paper and asked, ‘Is that all there is?’

We’re not unlike them and Buchanan reminds us that we are taught not to value things too much, but to value them too little. We forget to treasure and savour and the pressure of wanting more, wanting something different, dissipates all gratitude. It’s the same whether it is things or circumstances – we want to discard what we have very quickly – we want better and more and different and we fail to treasure that which is available in every circumstance. We neglect to understand that even in the worst of circumstances there are things to be grateful for. 

Now there’s nothing wrong with yearning for better – a friend recently suffered the heartbreak of her grandchild being diagnosed with a form of cancer. She hoped and prayed and yearned for better but it was a very difficult journey and tragically, her grandchild passed away. But in the midst of these terrible circumstances my friend shared that there are things she’s really grateful for. I think you have to be a very faithful and prayerful person to find gratitude and peace in a place like that and it points to where my friend places her hope and finds her peace. 

Question: Where do you find your hope and peace? How can you use the circumstances in your life to become more loving, joyful, peaceful, forbearing, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled?