Friday, March 14, 2014

In ALL things? by Christie Smith

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

On spring break in the mountains of New Mexico, my nephew prays for our meal before dinner, "And thank you, Lord, for your protection today as we skied. Thank you for keeping us safe." This is Wednesday's prayer. Monday's prayers were very different. On Monday prayers were offered for comfort and peace to an 11 year old boy who had broken two bones in his leg clean through. Prayers for wisdom for parents and doctors. Prayers for no surgery and traveling mercies to get that boy back home without pain. Many prayers are being whispered by many different hearts, but not many are prayers of "thanks." Sure there is "Thanks for not letting it be worse than a broken leg" & "Thanks for the possibility of healing with no surgery." But what of the prayers of thanks for allowing this to happen? What if my nephew's prayer before dinner on Monday would have been, "...and thank you for allowing Jackson to break his leg today. Amen." My family may have looked at him crazy! Because it would be weird to thank God for something that has caused so much pain. It would be abnormal for us to be thankful for something that we automatically label "bad." 

But this is the "hard eucharisteo"...the difficult thanksgiving. (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts). This is where we separate ourselves from our human American definition of the word "blessing." We tend to label good health and wealth to being blessed by God. But what of everything else? What of the stuff to make ends meet or the not making the ends meet? What of the disease and sickness and broken bones? And what of the loss? What if the fall on the mountain had resulted in much more than some broken bones? What of our God then? Does He not allow it ALL for our good? (Romans 8:28). If I truly believe that, shouldn't my prayer be, "Thank you Lord for allowing this to happen to me! Thank you for breaking my baby's leg!" Because I know that God has a plan in ALL of this. I know that to have growth you sometimes have to experience growing pains. I know that just like my baby's leg has to be set right to heal straight and continue growing straight, our perspective of the situation has to be set right in order for us to continue to grow right and straight. ("Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5,6) 

In this hard situation, I can already see a hundred reasons why...a hundred good reasons why. There is a difference between seeing the good and the bad of every situation and make no mistake, choosing to see the good is a choice. Do we really trust God and His best for us? Do we count it ALL as good?  "... but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" EVERY situation. There's the kicker. There's the real faith. And I've noticed in my own mind that when I think of that verse I always skip the most important part when I'm quoting it... "with thanksgiving." 

If we believe Isaiah 14:24, that God has a plan in this, shouldn't our prayer be one of thanksgiving for allowing it? Is there anything in your own life that you're hesitant to give thanks for? If my son's leg requires surgery, they will use flexible pins instead of the steel rod they would put in an adult. They do this because he is still growing and they don't want to stunt the growth in that leg. True, when the disasters happen in life, they hurt and leave scars. But is our perspective a steel rod or flexible pins? Are we allowing for growth through every situation or are we stunting our growth with the wrong perspective? 

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