Have you noticed how some people are always grumbling? I have a good friend who always begins his story about his latest trip by telling me endlessly about all the problems he had with the airlines. Now, I have traveled a lot and have not normally had any particular difficulties other than an occasional delay or a lost bag, but generally I am thankful that the flight gets me from point A to point B in a very short time without much to be concerned about. But why is it that this person always has such dire troubles when he travels? My only conclusion is that he is simply a grumbler. It’s the way he looks at the world and therefore experiences it an a negative way.
This attitude can be very dangerous for our spiritual well being. Negative thoughts can fill our minds and corrupt our view of the goodness that is all around us. We are not able to see and experience God’s grace for us.
Elder Paisos tells a story about this issue.
I knew two farmers in Epirus. One of them was a family man who had a couple of small fields and who entrusted everything to God. He worked, as much as he could, without anxiety. He would say, “I’ll do as much as I can manage.” Occasionally, some of the hay bales would spoil in the rain because he didn’t gather them in time, while other bales were scattered by the wind; and yet for all things he would say, “Glory to you, O God!” and everything went well for him. The other farmer had many fields, cows, and so on, but no children. If you asked him, “how are you doing?”; he would invariably respond, “Forget about it; don’t even ask!” He never said, “Glory to You, O God”; he was always grumbling. And so that you will see — sometimes a cow of his would die; sometimes one thing would happen to him, sometimes something else. He had everything, but he made no progress.
So what is the spiritual message here? If we are bound up with negative thoughts all the time we will never recognize God’s blessings. We become separated from God. As Elder Paisios puts it, “How are we to taste God’s blessings, if He gives us, for example, bananas and we’re thinking of whatever better things some ship-owner might be eating?” Those who accept what God’s gives them with thanks, develop a spiritual sensitivity and are able to know and experience God’s love for them. Those who continually grumble miss His energies that are always their to comfort and guide them. They live blind to God bound up by their own negative thoughts.
As the Elder puts its, “We don’t understand that happiness is in eternity and not in vanity.”