One thing I’ve learned from the locals here in San Antonio is that summers are unbearably hot. Seems people here love to talk about their misery, and I cannot say how many times I’ve heard about last summer’s heat wave (I think 12 weeks straight over a hundred degrees, with high humidity, of course).
At Ironwood Camp in the Mojave desert, new counselors who come are often shocked at the heat. The counselors’ attitudes can make a significant difference in the attitude of the campers, so they have strict instructions not to draw attention to the heat. They are not allowed to use the word hot.
Why ever not, do you think? Not because of draconian leadership, but because the camp directors know that when a counselor shrugs off the weather and decides to have a good time with the campers, the campers are more likely to shrug off the weather and have a good time. Even something as simple as saying “It’s really hot out here” can begin to change the atmosphere from excitement to misery.
I have noticed this influence with my own children. My commenting on the weather seems to result in more complaining and whining from them. I can simply say, “Wow, it is hot out here” and my children start crying and whining the minute we leave the house. I began to realize that what felt like an innocent comment on the weather really was complaining itself.
So I’ve been experimenting. I explained to the children that the heat and humidity is the reason they see so many butterflies here. And the heat and the humidity is the reason for the particular ecosystem God created here. People enjoy the flowers and birds, not remembering that without the weather, those flowers and birds would be different. I’ve told them how silly this inconsistency is. Yes, it’s hot, I’ve told them. We do what we can to minimize the heat, like wearing hats, putting a blanket on Laurel’s car seat, and using car windshield shades. But I have also told them I’ve decided not to use the word hot when referring to the weather. I’ve been giving thanks for the heat and humidity (and not merely a cooler summer this year, or the blessing of an air conditioner). It has been good, not only helping my attitude, but also my children’s.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Philippians 2:14-15
Notice one result from obeying verse 14: a good testimony among unbelievers. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as not complaining can be so powerful? Makes sense. Do we have a good God, or don’t we? When we complain, we’re telling the world that God isn’t good, nor is He powerful. Some testimony that is.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line[a] has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-3
The unbelief that results in complaining is a battle we all fight against, and I know that complaining isn’t going to go away simply by eliminating the word hot. Here is the question I’ve been thinking about, and one I want to ask my children today: What does the heat say about God’s character? I don’t think they’ll understand, but I want them to see this verse and understand that God’s creation reveals something about who he is.