By: The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
So many people today have been hardened by the world. Just to watch the evening news requires courage. Itís true, we live in very difficult times, and itís hard to find anyone with a positive attitude in the world today. We must fight the tide of negative energy and maintain a positive attitude toward life in order to grow spiritually. We grow spiritually when we understand that we are not the separate beings that we believe ourselves to be. Our mood, our demeanor, our approach to life affects other people. Iím sure youíve met people that left a lasting negative impression on you. There was something about the way the talked, or acted that struck discord in your spirit. On the other hand, Iím sure youíve encountered people that have a comforting effect on you, they make you feel peaceful and secure. If we are such separate creatures, how can we have such an impact on each other?
Some people enjoy complaining and wallowing in self-pity. If a person seeks true happiness, they should not allow themselves to dwell on negative thoughts, but always accentuate the positive. A smile is contagious, and so is a bright, cheerful attitude! Christianity is not a sorrowful faith, it is joyful, to be a Christian means emancipation from sin and death! How could anyone ever strip the joy away from being delivered from sin and death?
We are too quick to label an entire day "A Bad Day"! Chances are the entire day was not all bad; perhaps a few unfortunate things happened, but most likely something good was mixed in with that day as well. Your attitude can cloud issues and allow you only to focus on the most extreme emotions that you experienced, and therefore; to you, your day is a total loss.
First of all, you awoke that morning, God granted you another day of life, another opportunity to experience all the wonders that He has provided for us. We must realize that every single day is a mixture of blessings; and unfortunately, things that we would rather do without! To achieve lasting happiness, we must thankfully enjoy the blessings more, and be willing to forget the misfortunes we encounter.
Gloomy attitudes are self-fulfilling prophecies. A gloomy person has encountered misfortune, and allowed their attitude to change the forecast for the entire day. Not only do you miss all the blessings, but you end up being stressed out, constantly complaining, and make the people around you miserable in the process. The day was not all bad, it was your attitude that was bad! By accentuating the negative, you may have not enjoyed the cool breeze that refreshed you, or the sunshine that warmed you. You may have unaware of the benefits of the warm smile of a stranger, or overlooked a selfless act of generosity. You may have missed the beautiful song of a bird as it went about itís daily routine. You were so preoccupied with negative thoughts that positive thoughts could not penetrate the fortress of gloom you were immersed in.
I venture to say that every task we undertake is 10% real effort and 90% attitude! We are capable of accomplishing so much if we approach it with a positive attitude. Proper Christian faith is no exception, it is 10% effort and 90% attitude as well. Belief and attitude are close kin in relationship to faith. In the Scriptures: Matthew Chapter 9 verses 27 through 29 we read: "And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed Him crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when He was in the house, the blind men came to Him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto Him, Yea, Lord. Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you."
The blind men believed that Jesus was Lord, and that He was capable of restoring their sight. Their faith in the Lord made this miracle possible. The woman with an issue of blood reached out and with firm belief touched the hem of Jesusí garment and was healed. The Roman Centurion had complete faith that Jesus could but say the word and his servant would be healed. These were examples that the Scriptures provide us as models and guides as to how we are to approach faith, and life in general as well.
If you happen upon a lovely garden and find one flower dead, does that make the entire garden bad? Are there not other flowers in the garden that bring beauty to your eyes. If we undertake a task and one aspect of the task goes wrong, we cannot be justified in declaring the entire task of no value. Do we not learn valuable lessons from our mistakes? When you undertake a task that you do not enjoy, stop and think for a moment, is my attitude clouding my perception of this task? Try looking for positive things as you are working on the task, you might turn distress into comfort by discovering that a positive attitude can accomplish far more than 10% effort and 90% bad attitude.
When we pray, our attitude precedes us, God knows the level of faith you are approaching Him with. As you remember from the Scriptures, how very refreshed and overjoyed Jesus Christ was when He realized what great faith the Roman Centurion had. This is how He reacts when we, His children, approach Him with a positive attitude. Our salvation is based on the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, through our faith in Him. Our love, faith, and our devotion to Jesus Christ saves us.
In the Gospel according to St. Luke we read of a sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with the hairs of her head, Jesus said to those who were in the room. "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same, loveth little." "And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace." We all owe a great debt to Jesus Christ, because we all are sinners, but be of good cheer, He has overcome our sins, He has paid our debt with love.
Imagine how disappointed the Lord feels when one of His children utters a prayer like this:
"Lord, I donít know what I have done to make you mad at me! I have prayed and asked You to relieve my suffering; but You have not answered any of my prayers. Help me, Lord, I donít know what to do! Amen."
Now, I will interpret what message this prayer delivers to the Lord: First of all, anger is present in the first sentence, "Lord, I donít know what I have done to make you mad at me!" The first sentence sets the mood for the prayer, it is confrontational. While God hears the prayer, you can forget getting the relief you pray for because with your language, you have confronted God, and have insulted Him by accusing Him of not hearing you, or being unresponsive or mad at you! There is no faith demonstrated in this prayer, therefore, the prayer is not effective!
Now, letís change the attitude of this prayer:
"O Lord Jesus Christ, the same Lord that healed the servant of the Roman Centurion when he asked You to just say the word and his servant would be healed, I ask you to relieve my suffering in the same manner. I thank You, Lord, for every blessing that You have so graciously given me, and I ask that with each passing day, You will allow me to see the magnificence of Your glory. These things I ask in Your Holy Name. Amen."
With this approach, we tell the Lord that we realize He is capable of just saying the word and our prayer will be answered. There is no confrontation, but a statement of faith in the Lord. We ask that He apply the same blessing to us that He did to the Centurionís servant. We thank Him for the blessings that He has so graciously given us, and we ask for additional faith and reverence for His glory. Nothing that would be offensive to God is offered in this prayer. It was approached with a positive attitude, a faithful posture, a loving and caring demeanor that God expects and requires.
Youíve heard the expression, "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar!" Well, perhaps we should examine the content of our prayers if we feel we are being slighted by God. Could it be that we are slighting God, by belittling Him with our prayers, using offensive language and approaching the King of all with a bad attitude? Take for example all of the prayers in the Divine Liturgy. Do you find anything that is even remotely negative toward God? You simply will not find a negative attitude in Eastern Orthodox prayers, because, that is not the approach that we are to take before God. Remember the Publican and Pharisee praying in the temple. The haughty one did not receive the justification he desired, while the respectful one received justification.
Our attitude toward God, and our attitude in general, dictates the level of happiness that we enjoy. If you expect little from God, you will receive little. If you expect little from yourself, you will receive little in return. If you expect little from others, then again, you will receive the portion you expect.
If you expect miracles from God, and know in your heart that God is capable, and willing to perform them, you will receive them. If you expect happiness, you will receive it. If you expect joy and comfort from others, then most likely, you will receive that as well.
Faith in God, and life in general, and the way you approach them, will determine your successes and your failures. Our God is a positive God, He wants us to approach life as a gift, a positive thing, something to be lived in Joy, and in the shadow of His protection. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled because His love is multiplied one hundred fold when we approach life with a positive, loving, caring attitude!
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