One of the principles that Christianity teaches is: people work crom the inside out. What is formed on the inside produces what happens on the outside.
God condemned "wanting to kill someone" as equally evil as "actually killing someone." Accidents do happen, but deliberate choices only happen when the inner man makes a decision, and an action is birthed into the world.
There are a lot of "theories" about how God designed the inner man. Many talk about it, as if the inner man is compartmentalized. People talk about a heart transformation. They say things like: "I understood it with my mind, but it didn't reach my heart."
One Bible passage says transformation comes from changing the way you think. The original language says "renew your mind." Change your "knower."
My feeling is that all the components of the inner man are in one box, or they are all wired together instantaneous communication. Everything that happens in the inner man bounces off all the components at the same time. It is more of a unified structure, than compartmentalized.
I agree that people can know something, but not get it. People can know God loves them, Jesus died for them, and still not give their allegiance to Jesus.
But if the inner man generates the outer life, what we give our inner life to becomes very important.
Why are some people thoroughly miserable? Is it because they have way more problems than others? Or are they spending too much internal energy on their problems? Are they focused on what is bad in life?
If the inner generates the outer, then pursuing the wrongs, the mistakes, the accidents – all that is wrong in the world – can only generate negative effects.
In “A Thousand Gifts,” the writer highlights a terrible event in her family's life, and how “getting stuck” produced negativity towards God, life, and the future. But, a challenge to make a list of a thousand things she was thankful for, began to reverse the negativity.
The enemy, the world and sin are all active in the world. Their activity produces misery. One of the enemy's tactics is to produce as much misery as possible. Misery saps the energy from people's spirits, cuts across how God meant life to be lived, and robs God of glory he is due … because people do not see God as he really is, but through the lens of their misery.
But God is also active. He acts to restore his design in people, and the world. He act to renew love, and heal from sin, mistakes, and accidents. He acts to demonstrate himself in aspects of the world, large and small.
Thankfulness in big and small things is a recognition of the good, of God's war against misery, of God's war for grace and joy. If people get stuck on misery, they miss the opportunities to give thanks. That is, they miss when good happens.
We do need to be real, and honest, when bad stuff happens. But we need to be equally real, and honest, when the good stuff happens. One without the other gives the devil a victory.
Sometimes, good pours from the sky. Sometimes, good is buried so deep, we need to dig to find it. Maybe, we need to develop the habit of carrying a shovel with us every day. And, maybe, if we keep digging, we will uncover enough stuff to change the world … or, at least, how we interact with it.
As a result, I have begun my own list of a thousand gifts.
#1 – Saturday mornings, coffee and a bagel, my Bible, and the opportunity to see the world differently.