The other night as I was wrestling with something very painful and present, I was asking the Lord to help me be at peace. It seemed an impossible destination.
And then His still small Voice reminded me that the thanksgiving comes before the peace in these verses -
“..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Ah, yes. Argghh! And the wrestling began.
Because I did not WANT to be thankful. This pain that makes me feel like my heart is going to fly apart and explode my body as it does? It does not seem to me a “good thing.” It does not taste like bread and fish – it tastes like stones and serpents. Sharp spikey stones and sour poisonous serpents.
And yet, He assures me that He withholds no good thing from His children.
He is wise.
He is good.
He is sovereign.
And He tells me that I should be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)
My giving thanks is not dependent on whether or not I like the gift. It is not dependent on my ability to see how in one thousand worlds it could possibly be a good gift. It is not dependent on my figuring out what benefit God is going to bring to me through the pain.
It is all about WHO He is.
Psalm 145 is just one example of this in Scripture -
A Song of Praise. Of David.
1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
And so, this great big mighty God, this God Who can handle my anger, hurt, and frustration like no one else – He let me pour it all out to Him. And He helped me to that place of surrender.
Thank You, even though I hate this thing.
Thank You that You give good gifts.
That You that You do have a plan.
But more than that?
Thank You that You are Who You are.
Thank You that You are faithful, that You never change, that Your mercies are new every morning, that Your grace covers and redeems.
Thank You that because of Who You are, I can say Thank You for this pain.
And with the thanks?
Came the peace that goes beyond my understanding.
And I slept.