Lifestyle

Thanksgiving: the antidote to ‘whine flu’

Not a day goes by that we don’t read about the swine flu in the media. Everyone is talking about it. Even denominational leaders are looking to minimize the risk of contagion at the Communion table. They are suggesting new ways for pastors to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

As we commune as families at the dinner table for turkey and all the traditional trimmings, it’s likely that we’ll be having ‘pork’ as well this year. Swine flu will certainly factor into our conversations as we pass the mashed potatoes or dish up the pumpkin pie. And for good reason.

But, can I be honest? While we have just cause to be concerned about swine flu, I am also alarmed about another virus to which our community is vulnerable. I call it “the whine flu.”

In spite of the fact that we live in one of the most desirable zip codes in America, have you noticed our tendency to grumble and gripe? Although our creature comforts are nothing to sneeze at, we can’t seem to stop complaining about our lot in life. We have a chronic case of whining.

We’ve all been infected by this bug. We whine about what we don’t have as well as about what we do have. We whine about where we work as well as where we don’t. We whine about the stock market, health care and property taxes. We whine about where we’re not going to be able to vacation next summer. We whine about our kids’ teachers. We whine about decisions made at church or synagogue. We whine about salary cuts (even though we still have a job).

The whine flu is a contagious viral malady. The frequency with which we grumble, grouse and regurgitate questions like “How come?” “Why not?” “Why me?” must make God sick.

But, whine flu has a direct impact on us as well. It dehydrates our joy. It leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. It sours us on life. Our whining ways cause others to keep their distance from us. And then we find ourselves whining about feeling lonely.

But don’t despair. Did you know that the cause of whine flu has been determined? We don’t get it from forgetting to wash our hands. We get it from forgetting to count our blessings. When we uncork our gratitude, we bottle up our tendency to whine.

Taking stock of God’s many blessings (like family, friends, job, home and health) can be as therapeutic as a steaming bowl of chicken stock and noodles. When we compare our net worth to the majority of the world, “knowledge of our bottom line undermines our right to whine.” Being thankful is the key to recovering from this pandemic. It’s impossible to be grateful and gripe at the same time.

So how about it? Aren’t you sick and tired of complaining? Aren’t you weary of whining? Why not determine to make Thanksgiving more than just a day. Giving thanks can be a way of life. Simply put, gratitude is an attitude. It’s an attitude that looks for the good in our lives every day and then looks to thank the One responsible.

No wonder the ancient psalmist wrote, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2-3 NIV).

Although we have a tendency to forget the good things in our lives (much of which we don’t deserve), Thanksgiving can be a memory-jogger. It can point us to the Great Physician and the road to recovery. Whine flu is a treatable disease. Gratitude is the time-tested antidote.

Greg Asimakoupoulos is the pastor of Mercer Island Covenant Church.

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