Gratitude is a discipline that enables hope in dark places.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6 NASB95).
Paul writes that we are to present our request with thanksgiving. Let me restate the implication – as we ask, we are to be thankful for the answer. We are to be grateful no matter the conclusion.
Answered or not, we will be thankful.
The discipline of thankful is difficult but also one of the most important for maturity in Christ. The promise for those who master this discipline:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
Many profess Jesus but have little to no peace. They have accepted salvation, believing in promises of victory but lacking gratitude. Thus, when difficult times approach or seemingly consume, there is no peace.
The discipline of thankful protects us from discouragement and despair.
Have you determined, as you ask your most sincere prayers, to be thankful no matter God’s sovereign answers? Your peace from gratitude comes from knowing that everything works to His and our good. Even though His answers don’t necessarily make sense!
Paul encourages the discipline of thankful in many of his letters:
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2 NASB 95).
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Question – do you lack peace? Are you frustrated? Are you upset with others? Does your soul focus on your needs, the inadequacies of others, with skepticism of God’s ability or of His willingness to answer your prayers?
The solution isn’t God’s provision but your gratitude.
The discipline of thankful also protects you from pride when God answers your prayers. Struggling with doubt by learning gratitude allows humility in great victory.
One of the greatest victors of faith in the last hundred years is Mother Teresa – helping hundreds of thousands of poor and sick, a Nobel Prize winner, audiences with popes, and speeches to world leaders.
Yet she was known for humility.
After Mother Teresa’s death, her private letters revealed her struggles through feelings of abandonment by God. Yes, Mother Teresa. One of her biographers wrote, “What emerged from that inner struggle was a light in no way lessened by her bearing the cloak of humanity’s pain.”
Mother Teresa said:
Joy is prayer; joy is strength, joy is love. God loves a cheerful giver. The best way we can show gratitude to God and others is to accept everything with joy.
God’s antidote for doubt, despair and depression is the discipline of thankful.
By practicing this discipline, we walk safely through victory and defeat. And through our humility, God gives us a peace that can’t be explained by our circumstances.
The Discipline of Thankful.
~ Note: In Interruption #498, I encouraged you to make a list of five things to be grateful about and look at this list for a year. Send me your list and I will send you my list. On this list can be prayer, not answered yet, for which you are thankful.