Taking For Granted

“Taking for granted” describes a human tendency to assume that a feature of life will always be a constant. No matter how valuable something is, or how devastating its loss may be, we don’t appreciate it as we should because it has become a fixture that we don’t seriously contemplate being without. This is an illusion that robs life of true meaning.

Taking things for granted. In a prosperous, stable society, it is easy to take our surroundings for granted. This ranges from our cars to our homes, from food to our freedom, from amusements to our daily routines. It is important that we appreciate material blessings without on the one hand inflating their value, and on the other hand assuming they will always be there. Life can turn on a dime. Are we holding on loosely enough that their loss wouldn’t devastate us?

Reflection: How would you handle a house fire in which you lost everything? Just as the coronavirus was getting cranked up, Davis Love III, a golf professional, saw his home burn to the ground. Love later tweeted: “While everyone in our family is saddened at the loss of our home that was filled with so much laughter and incredible memories, we’re very blessed that everyone is safe. We’re ... keeping things in perspective as people across our community and around the world are struggling with the current unprecedented health crisis.”

Davis’ comment leads us to the second observation:

Taking people for granted. Sadly, our propensity for taking things for granted applies to people, sometimes even those who mean the most to us. A related axiom is “familiarity breeds contempt”; that is, we focus on the flaws and shortcomings of our friends and loved ones instead of appreciating their preciousness. We simply get used to their presence and take for granted they will always be there.

Reflection: With the coronavirus threat, people are languishing in hospitals and nursing homes and passing from this world without their loved ones being with them. This is immensely sad. Let’s not wait until it’s too late to tell others what they mean to us. If we haven’t done so previously, it will be awkward at first, but the payoff will be worth it.

Taking God for granted. This tendency knows no limits, for we can even take our Creator and heavenly Father for granted. My sense is that we are feeling this and the previous point acutely due to our present interruption of life. Yes, we may be missing things – our favorite restaurant meal or going to the gym or shopping at our favorite store – but it is insulation from people and God we feel the most.

Reflection: Think of Paul’s frequent travels and imprisonment. While he commonly had traveling companions, he was often in virgin territory or spent weeks walking or sailing to the next congregation. Later in life he spent five or so years in Roman custody. Consequently, Paul maintained deep, intense fellowship with the Lord (II Tim. 4:17; II Cor. 1:8-11 and Philip. 4:12-13).

If we’re rarely sick, working or traveling, we may take for granted the weekly routine of assembly. But absence from full group worship has now been imposed on us all. Hopefully, this has spurred a resurgence of our personal and private time with God.

Before us lies a dual challenge: How do we patiently endure the present separation? And when “normal” life resumes, how do we guard against taking God, others and the accoutrements of life for granted? Is our present crisis helping create within us a better sense of appreciation for what – and who – really matters?