During the peak of the recent pandemic, my wife and I became introduced to online grocery shopping. All we had to do was pick the items we wanted, place the order, indicating the time and day for pick up, and then show up at the designated store. After a few minutes, store employees would bring our groceries out and stow them away in the back of the car. We didn’t even have to get out of the car!
Of course, our initial reason for this was to do our part in stopping the spread of the virus. We didn’t think that we were carriers; but our love for others dictated that we do everything in our power to ensure we weren’t responsible for passing it along! As time went by, however, we began to see the beauty of this service… Both my wife and I have always despised grocery day, and this took away one of the most unpleasant steps! And so it was, as the pandemic waned, we continued to use online grocery services.
Over time, however, we began to feel a bit less satisfied with this service. The honeymoon was over!
First of all, there were the substitutions. I’m sorry, but when you ask for gluten free pasta or bread and they substitute with the regular stuff… doesn’t everyone know you would be crazy to order gluten free unless you can’t have gluten? It certainly isn’t for its price, taste or texture!
Then there are the inevitable emails: “Sorry! The items listed below were unavailable at the time you order was packed. You won’t be charged for these items.” Quite naturally these were always the most important items on my wife’s carefully planned menu…
And of course there was the human error. These were usually on our end; but nonetheless, when you think you’ve ordered disinfectant wipes and you didn’t, it’s frustrating. And of course, one of the online stores we use requires that we click “pay” several different times. And naturally we forgot to press that button the final time on numerous occasions. I don’t know how many times we showed up to pick up our groceries only to hear that they hadn’t received our order. We finally learned to not even venture out of the house until we received the “Your grocery order is ready for pick-up” email.
Two weeks ago, my wife placed a large order to be picked up between 4 and 5 pm. We arrived just after 4 and were told our groceries would be right out. 30 minutes later, my wife called back in. “I don’t mean to be impatient,” she began, “but we have a 5 o’clock appointment in the next town. Will you be bringing our groceries soon?” The answer? “I’m sorry, but we haven’t started pulling your order yet. Can you come back in a couple hours?” We were furious!
The kicker came, however, when we went to pick up our groceries two weeks later. The clerk stared at us blankly and said he didn’t have an order under our name. My wife pulled up the email on her phone that indicated the order was ready for pick up and showed it to him. He continue to stare blankly. Finally he said, “Ma’am, can you scroll down on that email and verify the pick-up location?” Sure enough, the order had been placed for the wrong store. It had been placed for the store in a town 30 minutes away! We are completely baffled as to how that happened, as my wife says she double-checked the pick-up location. In the end, however, there was nothing we could do but make the 30 minute drive to the next town for our grocery order…
As we got on the highway headed for our groceries, I’m ashamed to say that the atmosphere in our car was far from pleasant. We ranted and fussed and complained for about 10 minutes. Then, suddenly, my wife looked over at me and said, “Well, it is a pleasant day for a drive!” Sure enough, with all of our complaining, neither of us had noticed the bright sunshine, the first we had seen in days. It was February, and the ground was covered in puffy, pure-white snow, and the bare branches of the abundant trees were all coated in a layer of the puffy stuff. In all, it was beautiful! “This could have happened yesterday,” she commented. “It wasn’t a nice day to drive yesterday! Wasn’t it nice of God to arrange such a beautiful day for us to make such an unexpected trip!”
I couldn’t argue, and the rest of the drive was not only pleasant, but when we arrived in the next town, we were feeling very blessed.
What made the difference?
We took our focus off of the aggravation and put it onto the blessings of our God. No, the pretty day didn’t change the fact that we had to make an unexpected 60 minute round trip drive; but by focusing on God’s blessings, our attitude changed.
Paul knew this; and this was the reason he penned these inspiring words to the Thessalonian church: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).
It doesn’t matter how bad things are, God’s blessings abound. God is the Master at bringing good out of bad situations: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NRSV). Our job is to expect those blessings. We need to look around. We need to notice them, to acknowledge that it is God that put them there, to thank Him for His blessings amidst the trials, to give Him the glory. For when we do, our attitude does a complete 180 degree change. Our focus will shift from the circumstances to our glorious, all-powerful God, and the trials before us will become so much easier to navigate.
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries