When one of my clients asked me, “Does it get any easier?” I had to smile as I remembered God’s faithfulness extended to me through the years. We had been talking about cultivating a discipline of thanksgiving to God to help her in the very real challenges she faces. I wrote down a “prescription” for her to begin every prayer she offers to God with, “Thank You God for loving me and that You are worthy of my trust . . . . “ With this simple beginning she will be doing two things that will promote her own spiritual growth as she embraces the reminder that her Heavenly Father loves her (no matter what happens) and that her eternal future is in His loving hands.
We had been been reading Philippians 4 earlier so I referred her back to verses 5 through 7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We focused on the antidote to anxiety the apostle Paul prescribed for his good friends, no matter what trouble they faced. Paul advised them to:
- Go to God through prayer with all of their concerns and to undergird all that they prayed with thanksgiving to Him.
It was over thirty years ago that I prayed a prayer similar to what I prescribed for my client. I had gone home to have dinner with my husband while our son Luke, born nine weeks premature, was receiving his second blood transfusion. Six weeks before that night we had been hospitalized when there was a problem with my pregnancy. Living day-to-day in a hospital while doctors and nurses sought to delay the arrival of our son as long as they could had changed me in some good ways. I still remembered the amazing encouragement I found while lying in my hospital bed as the wisdom of James flooded my heart:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
What touched me so deeply was the understanding that God’s goal in the trials we face is our spiritual maturity and completeness. (Later I learned that actually is referring to our being conformed to the holiness of Christ.) Before returning to the hospital I went outside to look at that starlit night and to pray. I did not know if God would allow us to keep our son, but I knew that He has used Luke to bless many people with a deeper appreciation for the value of prayer. I thanked God for Luke and gave him back, trusting in His perfect will. I am grateful to report that God blessed my husband I with the privilege of raising our son but when I returned to the hospital with a quiet joy and peace in my heart I knew only one thing – that I trusted Him no matter what. Still reflecting on my clients question and God’s faithfulness in over thirty-plus years I finally answered, “Yes! It not only has become easier, it has become almost automatic!”
Are you discouraged . . . depressed . . . anxious about what life holds for you? Give thanks to the God who made you and who saved you for Himself through the sacrifice of His Son. Give thanks to Him for His Sovereign Goodness as you continue to trust Him for today as well as for your eternal future with Him. Give thanks and know that “peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” He is so very worthy of your trust!