Long ago and far away I remember someone saying, immediately after a sermon on the subject, “Attitude shmattitude. I am sick and tired of hearing about attitude.”
I thought to myself, “And you, sir, certainly have a bad one.”
Hanging by one of the magnets on my refrigerator is a quote by Charles Swindoll that ends, “…We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”
My neighbor recently returned from a trip to Alaska, a trip she and her husband have wanted to make for a long time. They flew to Anchorage, then rented an RV and traveled the state for two and half weeks. As they were returning the RV, ready to fly back home, she fell in the parking lot, face down. It was a nasty fall. The ER doctor put 14 stitches in her face. Five of her front teeth were knocked out, and she is still, after two months, receiving the dental repair work for that, already totaling $10,000. She needed a doctor’s note before the airline would allow her on the plane to fly home. She was in a wheelchair, of course, and the other passengers were staring out of the corners of their eyes—being too polite to stare straight on. (We’ve all done it.) Her husband finally told everyone she had had a run-in with a grizzly bear, and she looked so bad someone actually believed it.
You know what she said after she told me about it? “It’s okay. It was the last day not the first, so our trip wasn’t ruined. I can’t eat very well, so I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I can’t chew on my nails, and for the first time in my life I have nice looking nails. And I fell so flat I’m lucky I didn’t break my nose as well.”
She put me to shame. She had come up with four blessings in her mishap, when I wonder if I would have been doing anything but moaning.
As Christians our attitudes do make the difference. The way we handle adversity should make people ask us, “How can you do that? What is your secret?”
Those early Christians knew the secret. They rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor” Acts 5:41; took “pleasure” in all their sufferings “for Christ’s sake” 2 Cor 12:10; “received the word in much affliction with joy” 1 Thes 1:6; and “took joyfully the spoiling of their possessions” Heb 10: 34. How? They had their priorities straight, and that kept their attitudes straight. They truly believed a better place awaits us.
That is what faith requires: for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek after him, Heb 11:6. Sometimes I think we focus so much on the first part of that, that we miss the second part. If I want this world and its “stuff” so badly, then maybe I don’t really believe there is a reward waiting for me. If I do not have the attitude of Paul that “to die is gain,” then my faith is an empty shell. Why in the world do I bother?
Attitude, shmattitude. Don’t get sick and tired of hearing about it. It can help you make it successfully to the end, which is really only a beginning that will never end.
But call to remembrance the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly becoming partakers with them that were so used. For you both had compassion on them that were in bonds and took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one, Heb 10:32-34.