I know it must seem that titus2talk is turning into a blog about Puritans - Chris Ross over at The Conventicle is starting to worry! Please forgive me for sharing another insight from The Mystery of Providence.
In his chapter on How to Meditate on the Providences of God, Flavel states "In all your reviews and observations of Providence, be sure that you eye God as the author and orderer of them all". Later he states that we must "Eye the design and end of God in all [our] comforts. Know that it is not sent to satisfy the cravings of [our] sensual appetite, but to quicken and enable [us] for a more cheerful discharge of [our] duty."
As I read this, I was struck by how much I take my comforts for granted; so often I forget to thank God for the home I live in, the clothes I wear, the central heating that comes on at the flick of a switch when the nights are getting colder. However, even when I acknowledge God as the source of all these good things, do I assume that they are provided simply to make me feel better or make my life easier? Here Flavel reminds us that these comforts are given to us to enable us to joyfully fulfill God's purposes for us. He quotes Deuteronomy 28:47, where God rebukes the Israelites because they did not serve the Lord joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity.
This challenged me that often I am all too ready to complain about things even though I live in relative prosperity. Do we look at our washing machine and get annoyed by the never-ending piles of washing, or see it as a gift from God that enables us to wash our clothes and have some time saved to serve God in other ways? Are we thankful for our homes and looking for ways to show others hospitality or do we closet ourselves up, only too happy to escape from other people and their problems? We must thank God for all he has given us but also think about how he may be wanting us to use those things to serve him with gladness.