Thanks Despite Circumstances
November 2, 2023
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
The United States has a holiday designated for giving thanks, but the Bible teaches that thanksgiving should be a part of every aspect of our lives. That is a hard thing to live out. How do we give thanks when our hearts are troubled; when we hear of another mass shooting; when our world is full of war, pain, and senseless violence? How can we have hearts of gratitude when we experience sickness, suffering, and loss? When our hearts are broken and we feel defeated, how do we turn to God with thanksgiving?
These are honest and important questions that God understands. In Philippians, Paul gives guidance about this topic. While under house arrest, Paul writes to a church undergoing disagreement and hardship. He writes to encourage and challenge them. In chapter 4:4-7 he concludes his letter with an invitation to have peace and joy in all circumstances.
Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always”. The joy Paul describes isn’t situational. It is a joy and gratitude of heart that comes from knowing that God is in control. In verse 6, Paul encourages the church to “not be anxious about anything”. It is natural to feel worried, but God does not want those feelings to overtake us. Paul challenges us to lay before God, the fear, despair, frustration, and heartache we feel. Because when we present him our pain, he promises a peace that transcends all understanding. A peace that comes from knowing that God is present and hears our prayers.
Our world is broken and we can’t escape that. Outwardly, we may not see reason for gratitude in the circumstances around us. However, Paul reminds us that we can give thanks because God is with us. Our Father hears the cries of the innocent and sees the pain of the hurting. He comforts the grieving and carries the lost. We can give thanks because we know that this world is not our home and there will be a day when all violence, pain, and crying will cease. We can experience overwhelming peace and joy because our Lord loves us and he is sovereign.
So I invite you to follow Paul’s invitation. Lay your honest feelings before God, even the ones you can’t put into words. Ask God to fill you with his peace and give you a heart of gratitude in every circumstance.
Heavenly Father, We thank you for Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Thank you for the reminder that our gratitude is not linked to our circumstances, but to you alone. We can praise even in pain because of who you are and what you have done for us. So in every situation, may we boldly come to you with our honest feelings. As we do, give us hearts of gratitude for your loving presence and gift of grace. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray, Amen.
Spiritual Care Coordinator
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