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I go to the barber shop to have my hairs cut - both of them. I don't go expecting to glean some gem of philosophical wisdom. But I actually did during a recent visit. An elderly gentleman was the victim - I mean the customer - just ahead of me. He was telling why he wasn't able to go hunting this year as he had in past years, basically because of a barrage of aches and pains and a lot of medical problems. But he wasn't really complaining. You could tell that by his conclusion. As he got up out of the chair, he said, "Yep, my body is wearing out, I guess, but I'm just grateful I'm here for it."
I walked away from the barber shop that morning with more than a haircut. I walked away with fresh perspective on the things in our lives that bother us, thanks to a man who saw beyond his aches and pains to the blessing of at least being alive to feel them. Here's how he weighs it out: physical problems - small stuff, being alive - big stuff. That load-lightening perspective is evident in our word for today from the Word of God.
Proverbs 14:4 is really an unusual, even slightly amusing, piece of divine wisdom. It's one that may help you rise above some of the heavy stuff you're trying to lift right now. Here goes: "Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest." I like the way the King James Version puts it: "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean." OK, here's the picture: a farmer is complaining about the mess his oxen make in the barn. "If I didn't have those stupid oxen, I wouldn't have all this manure." Then somebody reminds him, "If you didn't have those oxen, you wouldn't have a harvest!" You've got a little mess because you've got a big blessing! Hello!
That might be what God is trying to remind you of right now. You've been frustrated by, maybe even complaining about things that aren't working, things that are hurting, things that need fixing, problems that need solving, or jobs that need doing. Maybe you've forgotten that the reason you've got a problem is because you've got a gift from God! You've been given blessings, opportunities, years, people who love you, people who look to you, people who need you, and you've been given work to do.
On days when my list of problems and pressures is multiplying, I need to read Psalm 16:5-6 to help me restore my "big picture" perspective. "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." You decide where you want to focus and what you're going to let determine your attitude. You can complain about the manure, or you can be glad you've got an ox. You can gripe about the glitches or you can give thanks for the gifts. You can be negative because there's a mess, or you can be positive because that mess is the result of progress. And, as any highway construction people know, you can't have progress without having a mess.
Where's your attitude coming from right now? Is it coming from your load or your Lord? Your burdens or your blessings? The mess from the wrapping paper or the gift from God that was wrapped in it? Take a step back. Look past the garbage that's right in front of you and look at the goodness of God that's all around you!