Thursday, June 8, 2023

It All Depends on What Perspective You Take

We’ve all heard about the two types of people – the glass-half-full ones and the glass-half-empty types. The former are positive, optimistic folks who maintain total confidence that things will work out for the best, no matter how bad they might seem at the time. The latter fret that even when things are going well, some form of misfortune is lurking around the corner.

I did have one friend who defined a third category for himself. He used to say, “I’m a very positive person: I’m positive…things are going to get worse!”


There are times I’m inclined to agree with him. After hearing one Chicken Little after another shouting, “The sky is falling!” – news of carnage due to cars, guns, diseases, natural disasters or economic calamity – it’s tempting to conclude that “living on the edge” starts with the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning. We’ve long heard warnings that the world headed non-stop for the netherworld in the proverbial handbasket. We suspect maybe it’s really happening this time.  


At such moments it would be nice to have Bobby McFerrin pay a friendly visit, singing his lilting tune, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Before the gloom settles in too deeply, I come to my senses and determine it’s a better idea to start accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative (someone really ought to write a song about that). 


This doesn’t mean talking oneself into being a naïve Pollyanna. It’s about making a conscious effort to shift our mindset. Someone has observed that a bad attitude is like having a flat tire – you’re not going anywhere until you fix it.


President Abraham Lincoln understood this concept. He once said, “We can complain because roses have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” This was the perspective of a man who had more than his share of thorns to deal with, not least of which was his final evening on earth while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865.


There are hundreds of other quotations we could cite for similar inspiration and encouragement, but I’ve found the very best are found in the Scriptures. There are many verses from which to choose, but one of my all-time favorite passages is Philippians 4:6-8.


This passage actually consists of two parts. The first two verses admonish, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 


When we focus on the Lord, instead of the circumstances that are troubling us, and entrust our concerns to Him through prayer – and thankfulness, peace can reign in our hearts despite the chaos all around us.


The third verse exhorts, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” It follows that if we determine to make the Lord central to our thinking, we become freed from negative thoughts that everyday living can foster.


If we focus on what’s going on in practically any element of society, we can easily identify things that are untrue, far from noble, wrong and impure. God has given us a beautiful world to live in, but humankind has turned some of it ugly and despicable. Things of excellence and deserving of commendation – we’re to look for and concentrate on those.


This challenge is directed toward me probably more than anyone else who will read it. I need the great reminder from Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” The Lord is still causing all things to work for the good of those who love Him, as Romans 8:28 declares. That promise was true many centuries ago, and it remains true today. 

Even when things outwardly look darkest and seem most dismal, we need to cling to the assurance, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He hasn’t changed – we can be positive about that! 

Monday, June 5, 2023

More Connected Than Ever, But Desperately Alone

Being a career journalist and writer, I’ve always been fascinated by communications. I often marvel in thinking about how much the art of communicating has changed just in my lifetime.


For instance, my first memories of the telephone: it was the old-fashioned kind, with receiver cradled on its base, a rotating dial for placing a call, and a simple combination of letters and digits for a phone number. The first one I remember was CH (for Charter) followed by five numbers. We didn’t have an area code yet.


For a while we had a “party line,” sharing the same phone line with one or more neighbors. Occasionally we’d pick up the receiver to make a call and hear someone else’s voices on the same line. We’d have to wait for them to hang up before we could use the phone ourselves. When our phone did ring, we had to pick up the receiver and hear the voice to find out who was calling. Can you believe it? 

We’d fret over missing a phone call because there were no answering machines – and nothing vaguely resembling voicemail. Printed telephone books contained the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone in our town. If the city was large, the phone books were huge. The alternative was to dial ‘0’ and get a real person called an “operator” who could provide needed information and phone numbers. Social media? The only thing remotely akin to that was secretively listening in on a party line conversation.


Fast forward to today: Never in the history of civilization have people been more connected. We’ve got phones, email, texting, the Internet, hundreds of TV and cable networks, streaming services, and video communications platforms. Everything literally at our fingertips. And yet, people have never been more isolated.


Why do we, surrounded by such a vast communications jungle, sometimes feel so desperately alone? Because no matter how many “friends” we may have on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social medium, there’s no substitute for eye-to-eye contact and a human touch.


We were created for relationship, first with God and then with one another. In the creation account given in the opening chapter of Genesis, after He created animals, birds, fish and other living things “according to their kinds,” the Lord decided to create humankind. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…’” (Genesis 1:26).


God clearly desired relationships with His foremost creations – man and woman. After all the wondrous but non-speaking living things He designed, the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit wanted a mutual love relationship with mankind. But after “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7), the Lord understood the man needed companionship. We might say, someone with skin on.


“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). After introducing Adam to “all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air,” God determined “for Adam no suitable helper was found…. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh….’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…” (Genesis 2:19,22-24).


Ever since that time, human history has been an unending saga of relationships, good and bad, healthy and unhealthy. As we were designed, God wanted us to yearn for eye contact, touch, conversation, and even the scent of other human beings.


Despite its many benefits, technology can provide no substitute for these needs. That’s why we read declarations such as Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” – as we interact and rub shoulders with one another, we can help each other become better people. 


In relationship we can support one another and help in carrying each other’s burdens: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).


During the pandemic, many churches were closed, ostensibly for health reasons. But those closures didn’t enhance spiritual vitality. We need one another – followers of Jesus Christ aren’t intended to function in desperate aloneness. This is why we’re admonished in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another….”

Relationships are hard. It’s easier to press “Like” on social media or type a quick reply to someone’s post. But relationships are vital. We need to be intentional, to look up (from our smartphones) not only to smell the roses but also to enjoy and engage in the real relationships all around us. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Inspired By the Mountaintop, Mired in the Valley

 A while back, some friends and I were engaged in a discussion about moments when we each felt the presence of God most profoundly. For some it was one or more palpable, almost tactile experiences; indelible impressions that resonate years later. They expressed a yearning to revisit those times or to experience more of them.

While I can’t claim having a singular Damascus Road encounter such as Saul had, resulting in his dramatic conversion from zealous Christian-hating Pharisee and transformation into the apostle Paul, a number of “mountaintop experiences” have become landmarks - watershed moments - for my spiritual pilgrimage. A couple of them occurred on a literal mountaintop, during CBMC family conferences conducted at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga. 

Such experiences can and should etch themselves upon our minds – enduring reminders not only of God’s presence but also of lessons He was teaching to enable us to advance in our journey of faith. Alas, we can’t remain on mountaintops, either physically or spiritually. For one thing, there’s not much room there. Also, angelic, inspiring mountaintops aren’t where real life takes place. Sooner or later, we must descend into what some writers have referred to as “demon-infested valleys.” But that doesn’t mean the Lord’s not still with us.


This is true for spiritual pilgrims of the 21st century, but also was the case for saints dating back to biblical times. Moses is one of the earliest examples, climbing up Mount Sinai to meet with God one-on-one and receive what turned out to be Israel’s marching orders for the next 40 years. 


In Exodus 19:20 we read, “The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain.” There God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and numerous other statutes and regulations for conducting lives of righteousness, justice and mercy. Meanwhile, down in the valley, the Israelites with short memories were into all sorts of mischief, fashioning a golden calf and worshiping it as a god while they burst into riotous revelry.


Another poignant mountaintop experience is recounted in Matthew 17:1-9, when Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain where they witnessed His visage transfigured: “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”


How did the three disciples respond? They must have been more than astounded. Perhaps at a loss for words, Peter blurted out the only thing that seemed appropriate: “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”


Then came the clincher, the moment that inscribed the experience into their psyches like a hot brand: “While [Peter] was speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well-pleased. Listen to Him!”


Understandably, the trio of disciples fell to the ground face down in great fear. But Jesus instructed them to get up, not be afraid and, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Then they went down from the mountain.


Do you think their descent into the valley below was quite the comedown, not only physically but also spiritually? To top it off, they had been commanded not even to mention their experience to anyone else. They had to play ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ long before anyone would conceive of creating a game show by the same name. 


I’d imagine Peter, James and John hearkened back to that surreal moment numerous times during their three-year rollercoaster of following Jesus. Maybe more than once they looked knowingly at one another and said, “Hey, you wanna go back to the mountaintop?”


We’re not much different. We long for those times – even fleeting moments – when God seemed so close it was almost as if He were clutching our hand. However, while we can be thrilled by the mountaintop, He intends for us to exist in the valleys.


Even there we can be assured of His presence, even if the sensory or emotional impact is lacking. As King David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4). 


His presence is with us on the mountaintop, those life-changing moments we’ll never forget. But He’s just as present in the valleys we travel through every day. God has promised, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or terrified…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). His presence is with us here, there, and everywhere.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Recognizing the Wartime Dead and the Cause for Which They Died

Today marks a solemn observance, Memorial Day, when our thoughts turn to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country. The first national observance, then known as Decoration Day, was held in May 1868. More than 100 years later, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be observed the last Monday in May.


An American flag flies
proudly in Burlington, VT.
Wars are terrible. We hate them, as we should. But as history has proven time and again, sometimes wars are unavoidable. Why? I believe we find the answer – at least for the U.S.A. – in the final and least-known stanza of the poem by Francis Scott Key that became our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.

Written by attorney Key during the War of 1812, that concluding verse affirmed what most Americans believed at that time:

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land

Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us as a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – ‘In God Is Our Trust.’


As I’ve been reading through a hefty volume called The Founders’ Bible, the complete Bible plus hundreds of articles, commentaries and notes about what the America’s founding fathers truly thought about the Bible and Christianity, I’ve been amazed. George Washington, the first President of the United States, said:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor.” 


Washington’s successor, John Adams, echoed those sentiments:

“The safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessings of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgement of this truth is…an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him.”


The Founders’ Bible presents hundreds of quotations from dozens more of the founding fathers, including those with names like Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Hancock, and Noah Webster. Contrary to common contemporary belief, the framers of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution saw no cause for excluding matters of faith and piety from conduct and policies in the public square.


So, as we honor and memorialize the self-sacrifices of the countless thousands of men and women who have given their lives on battlefields at home and abroad, we can be assured they did not do so without purpose – or in vain. 


Proverbs 14:34 declares, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” We’re living in an age when virtues of righteousness are sneered at and disparaged. As a consequence, we seem to be reaping the result – sin that condemns any people.


As the ancient Israelites were poised to finally enter the Promised Land, which would necessitate doing battle with hostile, pagan nations, Moses gave them this charge:

“See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely, this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' And what other nation is so great as to have their gods near to them the way the Lord our God is near to us whenever we pray to Him?" (Deuteronomy 4:5-7).

Despite our nation’s spiritual heritage, which was necessarily bathed in bloodshed of noble soldiers, we seem to have forgotten admonitions from our founding fathers and the Scriptures themselves. As we soberly and thankfully remember those who lost their lives in defense of the United States and its underlying principles, may we pray to see a return to the beliefs and practices that make for a nation that is exalted by righteousness. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

An Option Far Superior to ‘White-Out’

Believe it or not, I learned to type on a real typewriter. The kind probably on display at the Smithsonian Institute. Not only that, but it was a manual typewriter, meaning the keys didn’t instantly depress with just a light touch as was the case with electric typewriters. You had to exert real finger power to push letters toward a piece of paper, along with inserting spaces between words, sentences and lines.


On top of that, we had a tool called “White-Out” that was necessary to make corrections. For younger readers, the typewriters we used couldn’t highlight words or sentences and then remove them either by hitting a delete button or by cutting and pasting. Nope, we had to make corrections and changes just as we typed – manually. The alternative was having to retype an entire page.

I mention this not to take a stroll down memory lane or offer a history lesson on the challenges of being a writer all those years before the invention of the desktop computer. It’s just that White-Out brings to mind what Jesus Christ did for each of us on the cross, although the analogy admittedly has limitations.


White-Out worked pretty well, but if you wanted to present a flawless paper – perhaps for a college class or to submit a manuscript – a careful observer could still see if incorrections had been covered up. On the other side of the paper, you could find impressions of errors still there. So, an error wasn’t truly removed; it was just concealed from view.


Contrast that with the atoning sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross when He shed His blood for us. Many believers refer to this as being “covered in the blood.” Ephesians 1:7 asserts, “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:20 expresses it another way: “and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.”


Instead of “White-Out,” Jesus removed our sins, which the Scriptures also term as “transgressions,” with red – His own blood. Our sins that Christ atoned for, giving us complete and eternal forgiveness, aren’t just covered over, as if they could be swept under a rug. They are removed completely. We’re assured in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”


If that’s not clear enough, the Lord assures us in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remember your sins no more.”


Many of us wrestle with memories of sins committed in the past, thinking, ‘How could I have done that?’ or ‘How could I have said that?’ God doesn’t have a problem with memory; He chooses to both forgive and forget our sins, wiping them away without a trace, unlike the typewriter’s “White-Out which merely covered over errors. 


As it says in Hebrews 9:14, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death….” Similarly, Romans 5:9 announces, “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!” 


The Gospel of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, is rightly termed “Good News” because we no longer need to be burdened by guilt for sins that can’t be undone. The last book in the Bible, opens with this reminder about “… [Jesus Christ] who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5).


Perhaps at times you have found yourself dwelling on the past, wishing there were some kind of spiritual White-Out to make rueful memories and the consequences of your sins go away. At such times we need to remember Jesus has done something better – much, much better. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).


The question is, have we truly received Christ as Savior and Lord? John 1:12 states, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” If we have that assurance, then we can find comfort and confidence in the promise of 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”


God uses neither White-Out nor whitewash. In the words of the old hymn, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins; and sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.” Not covered up – it’s gone completely. Amen and amen!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Every Day Should Be Mother’s Day

As I write my posts a couple weeks in advance, I try to look ahead to special events and annual holiday observances. However, this year’s Mother’s Day has already come and gone – I failed to address it in advance. Not by intention. Truth be told, I think every day should be Mother’s Day.


In our extended family we now have 10 women who are mothers: My wife, four daughters, one daughter-in-law, three granddaughters and a granddaughter-in-law. As I observe each of these ladies in action, I can’t help but marvel in admiration, how devoted they are to those God has entrusted to their care. 

A mom’s mission begins about nine months before baby is ready to make its initial public appearance. Being a male, there’s no way I can understand or relate to the childbearing process. The excitement and anticipation are great, I know, but so are the discomfort and pain. What makes it all worthwhile is the magical moment when the doctor or nurse declares, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” and the contractions come to an end. But then the real work begins.


The roles of mother and father are equally important, but they’re not the same. Moms have unique relationships with their children, as they should. After all, they did get that nine-month head start on dad. When a child falls and suffers a scratch, they typically cry, “I want my mommy!” When cameras pan the sidelines of college football games, players often turn and shout, “Hi, Mom!” Some dads might wonder, “What am I, chopped liver?”


In today’s society, the responsibilities of motherhood in many cases are greater than ever. In the vast majority of single-parent homes, it’s the mother who carries the load, serving as housekeeper, chef, breadwinner, money manager, chauffeur, nurse and many other duties. I frankly don’t know how single moms do it. 


We could talk about the tragedy of broken homes and why an intact family with both mother and father present is preferable. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up….” This is true for practically any pursuit, whether starting a business, undertaking a project – or raising a family. But that doesn’t diminish in the slightest the invaluable role of being a mother.


We see many positive references to motherhood in the Bible. Eve was the first mother and experienced great sorrow with her first two sons, Cain and Abel, the former becoming a murderer and the latter his victim. But she had a third son, Seth, who apparently lived a good, long life and established a long line of descendants.


The Old Testament book of Genesis also gives us the stories of women like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Hannah, who prayed many years for children before God fulfilled their desires. The first chapter in the New Testament tells us about Mary, the first person to receive the announcement that she would become the earthly mother of the promised Messiah. Her cousin Elizabeth, another woman who was barren until her later years, became the mother of the child who became John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus Christ.


In the Scriptures we see the mission of motherhood as being much more than managing the household and nurturing their offspring. Mothers also help to lay the spiritual foundation for their children. As the apostle Paul acknowledged to his protégé, Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).


The apostle also referred to the role of mothers as he described the process of teaching and discipling young believers: “…we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).


I hope every mother reading this enjoyed celebrating Mother’s Day and that fathers honored their wives appropriately. But the moms in our lives deserve such recognition every day of the year, not just a single appointed holiday. We couldn’t do without them!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Trite But True: An Attitude of Gratitude

“Son, you better change your attitude!” I heard my parents say this to me more than once while I was growing up. I wasn’t a particularly rebellious kid but was known for sometimes stomping up the stairs to my room when I didn’t get my way.


Attitude issues don’t afflict only adolescents and teens. Just go to any store or restaurant and you’ll find lots of different attitudes on display. Some people are smiling and laughing, just getting a kick out of life in general. Some carry chips on their shoulders, daring you to knock them off. Some wear scowls, whether reflective of their tough lives or difficulties they’re presently encountering. Maybe they made the mistake of watching the news to launch their day. Talk about mood killers!


The thing about attitudes is that we choose them; they don’t choose us. If you find yourself in a mud puddle covered with mud, you can either stay there all muddled or get out and start cleaning up. It works the same way with attitudes. If we feel an emotional shadow moving upon us, we can stay still waiting for it to envelope us or intentionally move out of the shadow.


This is why, trite as it sounds, I try to maintain what some speakers have labeled “an attitude of gratitude.” Perhaps conceived by some poet who didn’t know it, it’s been repeated so much it has turned into a handy cliché. But there’s validity to it.

Almost every day, even before I get out of bed, I repeat the verse, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Recognizing God has given us another day of life – which many people didn’t get – and that He’s in the middle of all we’ll be doing, we can choose to rejoice and be glad, no matter what. In short, adopt an attitude of gratitude as we enter the new day with its possibilities and challenges.


If there ever was someone who could have justified having a bad attitude, it was the apostle Paul. After his conversion, he zealously set out to serve the Lord and proclaim to others the good news of Jesus Christ. His “reward,” it seemed, was one calamity after another.


In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 Paul described a litany of episodes that certainly didn’t reflect a life lived in the lap of luxury: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods…stoned…shipwrecked…in danger…I have known hunger and thirst…cold and naked.” Wow – and you thought you were having a bad day!


Would you expect someone who went through all these things to serve as Exhibit A for having an attitude of gratitude? And yet this was the same man who exhorted Christ followers in the ancient city of Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). 


Paul wasn’t singling out the folks in Philippi. He also unequivocally admonished believers in another Greek city, Thessalonica, “Be joyful always…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).


Without question, we can find many reasons for doing just the opposite. We don’t have to look hard. Unfulfilled goals and unrealized dreams. Personal sorrows. Unmet expectations. Not to mention the current state of social unrest, troubled economy, political grandstanding, and a seemingly endless progression of downers that describe life in the 21st century. Nevertheless, reading the Scriptures we find no exceptions, no exclusion clauses.


Instead, we’re to do as 2 Corinthians 4:18 commands: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

In the world around us the mantra might seem to be, “If you can’t say something bad…don’t say anything at all.” But as disciples of Christ, we’re offered the alternative: "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13). 

We’re to look up – and forward – to a glorious future in eternity rather than becoming consumed by dismal elements of the present. If we do that, we can feel and exhibit a genuine attitude of gratitude, no faking required.