Do you ever find yourself bored or stuck in the daily grind of life? Does it feel difficult to give thanks when life feels monotonous and uneventful?
Moses wandered in the desert for forty years before he stumbled upon a burning bush. He knew the excitement of living in Pharoah’s palace, but he grew accustomed to the boring life in the desert until God called him to get back in the game. After a brief period of terrifying excitement with ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and a few other miracles, Moses returned to the boredom of wandering in the wilderness for another forty years.
Most likely Moses penned Psalm 90 while wandering in the desert. He said, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
The daily grind isn’t so boring after all
My friend, Michaela, recently had surgery for endometriosis, a fairly straight forward procedure. In the process, they discovered she had acute appendicitis which could have killed her. She’s grateful for a new lease on life.
I have several friends who serve as pilots in the military or for airlines. Pilots prefer boredom. 99% of flying consists of following flight plans and standard procedures. But pilots must remain ready for the occasional moment of terror for which they’ve trained their entire career.
Parenting small children feels very monotonous. Feeding, changing diapers, putting down for naps, repeat. Yet, these years form the foundation for an entire life. The way we love our children during their first few years dramatically impacts their long-term mental health and resilience.
Staying thankful in the daily grind
So how do you remain thankful while wandering in the proverbial desert? What do you do when you can’t handle changing another diaper, writing another boring report, or attending another pointless meeting?
Here are five ideas inspired by an article I wrote a few years ago.
#1: Count your days
None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Jesus encouraged us to focus on living today since we can’t control what happens tomorrow. He said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Mt. 6:34 NLT).
What if instead we give thanks for each day and ask God to use us in that day?
#2: Stay on the lookout for God moments
One of my seminary professors, Dr. Steve Brown, taught me to look for the 15-minute conversations that could change the course of my life. You never know when they will happen.
I can tell you this. If you’re not looking for them, you’ll miss all of them 100% of the time.
When you discover a God moment, stop to give thanks.
#3: Pray for greater ministry
In his book, The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson encourages us to pray for greater ministry opportunities and then to watch how God answers. He recounts a story where he felt completely drained, lonely, and bored. He decided to pray that God would give him an opportunity to minister. Shortly thereafter a young man asks to join him for coffee. Turns out the young man and his wife were on the verge of divorce. Through a one-hour conversation, God allowed Bruce to counsel this man and their marriage was saved.
If you’re stuck in the daily grind, maybe God wants you to pray for more ministry opportunities. Those could be with your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, or a gas station clerk. Pray for eyes to see and be ready when God answers. And always give thanks.
#4: Cultivate the habit of practicing God’s presence
Brother Lawrence lived the monastic life as part of a religious order in Paris. He worked as a dishwasher, but he famously learned to practice the presence of God in the midst of ordinary life.
God knows everything about you and he wants you to know him. Imagine that. The God who created the universe wants to know you and me. The Almighty King who rules all nations and the heavens cares about what I’m going through. In fact, his Holy Spirit lives in me.
We can give thanks for the constant 24/7 access we have to God’s throne.
#5: Remember the invisible war
We fight a spiritual battle against spiritual powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). Our foe never sleeps. Peter says Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).
But Satan rarely attacks us directly. Instead, he distorts ordinary things to prevent us from seeing what God wants from us. As C.S. Lewis noted:
“There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least – sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.”-C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters
Warfare provides constant excitement, so no wonder Satan wants us to focus on boredom. Thank God for supporting us in the battle.
Gratefulness transforms the daily grind
Notice how each of these areas leads to thanks:
- Give thanks for the day that you’re living.
- Give thanks when God shows up powerfully and personally
- Thank God for each ministry opportunity he gives, big or small
- Return thanks for your constant access to God’s presence
- Thank God for leading and protecting us in the battle
Spend 5 minutes journaling about ways you can give thanks in the boring and ordinary circumstances of your life.
Lord, thank you for your constant presence and your invitation to join you in your kingdom plans to take the Gospel to every man, woman, and child. Forgive me for becoming bored or complacent in my life. Show me ways to follow your lead today in loving my family, my neighbor, and my city. Teach me to be thankful no matter what my circumstances. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.