That’s what we do sometimes… we cry over spilled champagne. When little things do not go our way, we complain. We gripe. We seek recompense. As if the world, or God, owed us something. Somehow, we seem to think that we human beings deserve only good things, that there is some unwritten rule that we are singled out for only good things. And so every time something doesn’t go our way, we complain, we gripe, and we seek recompense.
Sometimes, it’s the small things. Like when that driver with his big, fancy car, swerves into your lane (That’s not right, that’s dangerous!). Like when the checkout person takes an extra long time locating how much your item costs (Can’t you be more competent?). Like the way that colleague of yours dominates the lunch conversation (I’ve heard better noise coming from an elephant’s rear end!).
So we complain. We gripe. And we seek recompense.
At other times, it’s the big things. Things that are much more significant to our worldviews. Like when you don’t get that job you thought you’d get (But I deserved it!). Like when someone you love falls sick and is hospitalized (How can something like this happen?). Like when you’re going through a particularly difficult situation (I deserve better than this – something good better come out of this!)
Complain. Gripe. Seek Recompense.
But here’s the catch. I have this funny feeling that the world, or even God, doesn’t really owe us anything – much less anything good. Why should we be given anything good? Where does it say that we are entitled to only good things – that things should only go our way? What do we think we have done that qualifies us for only good things from God or the universe? Consider what we really ‘deserve’.
We have a natural tendency for evil. No one really has to teach us how to steal, lie or backstab. No one sits a child on their knees and carefully instructs the child in the finer points of being selfish. And yet, we naturally grow up with these inclinations present in our lives. If given half the chance, we’d probably act on some of these tendencies. I guess we’re not that innocent. So much for us deserving good things from God.
We have failed to properly care for the environment. We thoughtlessly throw things away with nary a thought for the environment. We litter. We pollute. We continue our hostile takeover of delicate and disappearing ecosystems around the world in our pursuit of more, more! MORE! And we still demand that the universe wields good things for us. So much for us deserving good things from the environment.
Still, if we were to say that we aren’t ‘that bad’, we must be honest with ourselves to say that we aren’t really ‘that good’ either. Too good for hell, too bad for heaven. What a dilemma.
Nonetheless, we are still blessed. We still find ourselves in abundance (when you really think about it). God still blesses us with good things, in spite of ourselves. The sun still shines for us. We still find food in our stomachs. We find ourselves with those who would still love us just the way we are. For the most part, we’re pretty healthy, pretty wealthy, and pretty wise. But in our abundance, we must never forget that there are those less fortunate than we are. It used to be a joke – that for some people, an economic depression means that they can’t afford to maintain their second car. They cry over spilled champagne.
The only proper response towards our abundance is humble gratitude. I seriously doubt that whatever abundance we find ourselves with is purely of our own effort. If you were born into abundance – a good family, wealth, health – then be thankful! You could have been put into a very different environment and your whole life would have been different. If you think that you have worked for your abundance – status, success, wealth, health – be thankful! Many others have probably taken the same route as you did, but were not as successful.
The road that leads to the peak of a mountain is often littered with the bodies of those who have failed along the way. I doubt that any self-made men really exists. We often stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us – other pioneers who have blazed the trail, mentors and teachers who have guided us, and loved ones who have remained by our side through thick and thin.
Most importantly, we must be thankful that we experience anything good at all – considering what we really ‘deserve’. Most of us are blessed in so many ways (both big and small) that we’ve probably lost count. For the most part, I believe that we are all truly blessed in an overflowing abundance (that’s the love of God!) if we truly took the time to sit down and take stock. Despite that, some of us have the audacity to complain, to grip and to seek recompense. We still shake a fist to heaven, or mutter quietly in our hearts.
We still have the audacity to cry over spilled champagne.
I wrote this after my trip to Hainan Island, China. It was a family trip, and my father had decided that it was time for us to go back to our roots. It was a very eye-opening experience, indeed. Some of my relatives still lived in houses that were so small and so dilapidated. Others lived in a relatively much lower standard of living to my own. And yet, they still showered us with the hospitality that reminded us how blood flows thicker than water. That’s when I realized how blessed I was. That’s when I realized how thankful I should be.