Regardless of what situations we face, our attitude going in makes all the difference.
Take life as a parent, for example. My children can commit the exact same act of disobedience on two different occasions, and my attitude, not the crime, will determine how I respond. If I walk into the situation with a chip on my shoulder, I will snap. Only punishment, not loving discipline, will be the result. If I have made a conscious decision to be calm and peaceful that day, I might still mete out the same punishment, but the effectiveness will be infinitely greater. My attitude makes all the difference.
The same is true of our responses to God. He shows Himself in so many ways, just as He has since the beginning of time. Sometimes His presence showers down blessings untold. Other times, His actions must be punitive. His wrath is a common theme throughout Scripture, as is His glory.
I have been reading in Jeremiah lately, and the attitudes of the people of Judah sadden me. I can only imagine the emotional turmoil Jeremiah himself endured as he watched his people reject God. Time and time again they refused to recognize His power and authority. They would come to Jeremiah asking for a word from the Lord, but as soon as he gave it, they would reject it. It is no wonder Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet.
The attitude of the people reflected callousness, haughtiness, selfishness, and a lack of concern for anything of God. That attitude led them to respond with rebellion.
But then I look elsewhere in Scripture. Notice the attitude in this passage.
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 2 Chronicles 7:3
I can only imagine how terrified the people must have been. In all honesty, this generation of Israelites had not seen such dramatic displays of God’s glory. Many generations had passed since the great days of the Exodus and conquest. They had heard the stories, to be sure, but none of these people had ever seen God reveal His glory in this way. Their response, however, showed that they anticipated this revelation. They probably did not know exactly how He would confirm His glory or His new dwelling place, but they must have know He would do so somehow. After all, they had heard the stories.
These people expected God. When He showed up, their response clearly revealed the attitude with which they entered this time of dedication. That response was worship. Expectancy bred worship.
Day in and day out our attitudes impact our responses. How often do those attitudes reflect an expectancy of God? It is so easy to fall into complacency because God never seems to show up with fire from heaven like He did in the Old Testament. But He still shows up, yet we miss Him because we do not have an attitude of expectancy. We should see Him in every opportunity He gives us to train our children, but instead we snap at them. We should see Him in every chance we have to be patient with a co-worker, but instead we fuss and complain. We should see Him in every tribulation that will test our faith, but instead we cry in misery and frustration.
At least, that would describe me.
I want to live with an attitude of expectancy. I want to expect God to work in every circumstance, every encounter, every high, and every low. Even on days when I awaken agitated or restless, an expectation of God’s presence can make all the difference. With such an attitude of expectancy, I will respond like the Israelites did at the temple dedication. I will worship.