When Blessings Become Burdens: How to Overcome Ingratitude

I didn’t want to be at work.

I had just taken a week off to stay home with my baby girl and snuggle—and it was a blast. Going back to work the next Monday? Not so much.

Which made me wonder: when had this job—seen as such a blessing when I first received it—become such a burden?

When Blessings Become Burdens

Sure, my circumstances had changed: three years ago I was desperate for a job and took the first offer that came my way; now I’m a new mama clinging to each day with my baby girl who’s growing too fast.

And I imagine I’m not the only one caught in the changing tides.

Marriages that started with “love at first sight” become unbearingly icy and resent-filled.

The ideal house—the one with a craft room, an exercise room, and a mother-in-law suite—soon becomes too much for one person to keep tidy.

Moms who longed for the day their kids would “just grow up” find themselves empty-nesters and empty-hearted.

blessings_burdensThat dream job that promised lucrative pay and internal advancement loses its luster and becomes tedious.

Even stay-at-home moms begrudge their husbands the chance to leave stinky diapers and grubby fingers behind for a clean and professional work environment.

We could all say that “circumstances change.” But that answer skirts the heart of the matter, at least in my experience.

An Ancient Problem

It seems like this blessing-turned-burden is a universal curse, one people have been struggling with for millennia.

You could find it all the way back in the Garden of Eden (cue Adam: “Yeah–that woman You gave me? It was all her fault.”) But I’ve recently found a more illuminating example in the wandering Israelites.

The nation of Israel was traveling in the arid desert, having recently been delivered from oppressive slave-masters in Egypt. They probably didn’t have the most comfortable accommodations, but they definitely had front-row seats to see God’s wonder-working power.

Take, for example, the time they complained that they didn’t have food. So God miraculously provided manna with each morning’s dew. There were elated, as I probably would be. How awesome to serve a God who provides food in such miraculous ways! (Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Scientists recently discover wonder food that provides all nutritional needs in just one ingredient!!!)

But soon, the manna became boring and the quail tiresome. What was first a blessing had quickly become a burden:

“Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
~ Numbers 11

And God’s anger burned against them.

Why such a strong reaction? Isn’t God going a little overboard?

Do You Trust Me?

The Israelite’s complaining revealed a more fundamental character flaw—a lack of trust. Complaining stems from a heart of distrust. When I complain about the things God has blessed me, what I’m really saying is that God messed up. Things should be different right now.

I should be doing something else somewhere else with someone else.

I don’t trust God.

beautiful blessings2

As ugly as the Israelites’ behavior is in Numbers 11, my own behavior is hideous when I complain about blessings.

And though I don’t have to cower in fear from an angry God (because hallelujah–Jesus took it all on the cross), I would do well to learn from the Israelites and cultivate a heart of gratitude (see Romans 15:4).

So I look up in the mirror and tell my soul: God makes everything beautiful in His time. He has me right where He wants me. Today, He has allowed me to continue working while wonderful people care for my daughter. In time, He may answer the desires of my heart with another arrangement. But for now, I must learn to enjoy where God has placed me.

So today I choose to greet my workday with joy and confidence, knowing that He holds me in His hands and not one detail has escaped Him. So my blessings can remain just that–blessings.

Your Turn

Have you experienced once-upon-a-time-blessings become unbearable burdens? How did you react? Did they remain burdens or did you do something to turn the situation around?

Photo credit: flower, sad woman