Is it possible for us to be grateful... to use grateful language and worship for EVERY thing that makes us anxious? THIS is what God is asking of us.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
This scripture is so popular that it is #9 of the top 10 scriptures reviewed at BibleGateway.com. I am sure you either know this verse or have heard its words at some point. It is a scripture I recite often.
I want to focus on one word – thanksgiving.
According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek translation for “thanksgiving” means “gratitude”; to use “grateful language”. It also states that it is an “act of worship”.
Can we do this? Be grateful? Use grateful language? And as worship? For EVERY thing that makes us anxious? THIS is what God is asking of us.
When I used to read this scripture, I noted the “thanksgiving”. I always start my prayers with praise and thanksgiving so I had mentally checked off this directive and proceeded in prayer. But wait a minute – God’s Spirit had me take another look at this directive in scripture.
He is not talking about the thanksgiving we offer when we “enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise” Psalm 100:4. I realized that Philippians 4:6 is really saying:
When it comes to being anxious or upset over anything and everything, submit each and all of these concerns to me in prayer WITH THANKSGIVING.
So since having this new revelation, I’ve been trying to do this, and It. Is. Hard.
I think most of us do a poor job of thanking God for the good things He blesses us with much less offering this act of worship when we are feeling worried or anxious.
Even in concept this notion of thanking God for everything we may be anxious over seems challenging no matter how noble it is. But, let’s make this a little more real. Let’s think of some things that make us anxious:
- Postpartum Depression
- Financial Trouble
- Our Child’s Serious Illness
- A Family Member’s Drug Addiction
- Job loss
- Broken Relationship
- Child Abuse
- Haunting Memories
So, how do we give thanksgiving for such things when we pray? Do we look for the silver lining in our situation? Do we just say “thank you” for this no matter the pain? Do we put on a mask, act contrary to how we feel, and display a false happiness in front of others?
I hope not.
Sometimes our act of worship is a sacrifice. We bring the hard things before God realizing his mercies are new every day. We look back to how God has been faithful in the past and thank Him now in the midst of our troubles. We set our eyes toward heaven.
Instead of being anxious over situations, I am going to bring every one of them before the Lord, WITH thanksgiving. I don’t know what that thanksgiving will look like. There may be times I can only be thankful that I have Someone to bring my circumstance to. There may be times I will be confident and thankful that God is going to intervene with healing, provision and the like. There will be those times I can hardly be thankful, but I will muster up thankful language in pure obedience.
I believe God wants us to come to the end of ourselves, our suffering and our situation, and look to Him.