Lately all the messages I’ve heard, and things I’ve read talk about praying and giving thanks. This morning those last four words jumped to the center stage of my mind, and danced around – praying and giving thanks. The word “and” was the lead dancer. That is not difficult to do when life is good, is it?
As I thought about that I wondered if God gave any conditions such as: if you are sad you don’t have to give thanks; if things are difficult, you don’t have to give thanks; or if you are facing a big unknown situation in your life, you don’t have to give thanks. With those questions in mind I scoured the scriptures to check. Whenever we have a question we should always go to God’s word first. With three translations in front of me I sat out on my journey through the pages.
In my journey God showed me His answer. Over and over with each scripture verse I came upon it was the same.
The thought that provoked the journey began with the teaching, and example, of Jesus when he fed the 5000 (Jn. 6: 1-13). Before Jesus fed the multitude with only two fish and five loaves of bread, it says in verse 11 “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” It is noted in my study bible along with several commentaries there were estimated to be more than 5000 people, because in verse 10 it says “there were 5000 men” (Jn. 6:10b italicizes mine). According to the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible, “The men numbered about 5000, plus women and children (Mt. 14:21), totaling perhaps as many as 15,000 people” (Jn. 6:10 footnote p. 1816). It wasn’t Jesus that was facing sadness, difficulty, or an unknown in that situation. It was His disciples that were with them. They looked at the sea of people surrounding them, their location, resources, and the unknown question of “How will we feed them?” (Jn. 6: 1-13). Like the disciples are you facing sadness, difficulty, or an unknown factor in your life? If so, like me you may find it hard to pray and give thanks. Sometimes my journey through the scriptures is quick, other times it is longer. I figure the journeys that take longer is because God is trying to cement something in my mind and heart that needs reinforcing.
This morning my journey took some time, it was not a quick run to the 7-11 store of verses. I had to search, read, cross reference, and search some more. At times it is because I am looking for the answer I want. Yet God, being patient, waits as I go from book to book, and verse to verse. During my journey I had a phone conversation that did not end well. It left me in tears, as I thought God my heart is breaking, and I am supposed to pray and give you thanks – for this? As I choked back the tears, not wanting the other party to know, we ended the call. You may be able to relate. As I hung up the phone the three verses that lay in-front of me dancing on the page were “Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Th. 5:16-18 HCSB). Pray and give thanks. My journey continued and stopped at three other places.
The verses on this morning’s journey:
Phil 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” HCSB (Italicizes and bold mine)
Col. 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind, and a thankful heart.” NLT (Italicizes and bold mine)
Ro. 12:12 “Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; and pray all the harder.” MSG. (Italicizes, and (added), along with bold mine)
God’s message came full circle. Sometimes God allows us to experience the question along with the answer in order to teach us. Other times it is so we can share it and teach another. If that is you, and you find yourself soaked in saddens, darkened by difficulty, or unsure by the unknown dig deep into untapped strength stop to pray, and give thanks. As the words danced across the page, tears streamed, my heart prayed for the other person’s happiness, and I gave thanks.
©Gentle Whisper Ministries
*picture by thebloggingdisciple