If you are like me, I battle fear and anxiety far more often than I would like. Nothing good ever comes from it. Ever. It just wears me out and steals my joy.
Which is why I often find myself going back and meditating on these verses from Philippians 4:6-7,
“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.”
When we are anxious and fearful, thankfulness is not our automatic response, right? In fact, thankfulness is typically our last response.
But according to the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7, an attitude of thankfulness should characterize our hearts and minds, and therefore our prayers, even in the face of (and especially in the face of) anxiety and fear. Why? Because thankfulness is actually one of the greatest and most powerful weapons in our fight against paralyzing fear, worry and anxiety. Thankfulness TO God actually leads to peace IN God.
You see, thankfulness shifts our focus off ourselves and our difficult and perhaps scary circumstances and onto God. Onto His goodness. Onto His grace and generosity in all things. Thankfulness serves as a pathway to peace and hope as we recognize the reality of God’s faithful presence and power in our lives, every second of every day. How desperately we need to remember this incredible truth when it feels like we are drowning in anxiety and fear.
Practicing genuine thankfulness to God only happens through faith in God. Faith that He is who He says He is and will do what He promises He will do according to His Word. God’s promises are sure, which is why putting our faith in Him cannot help but result in joyful thanksgiving. Joyful thanksgiving that fights off anxiety and replaces it with peace.
Particularly in times of pain and trial, practicing thankfulness to God reflects three things:
#1. A remembrance of God’s supply in the past.
God has been so faithful to you and to me throughout our lives. We cannot fathom how faithful He has been, even if we don’t realize it or acknowledge it.
But if you take the time to really think back on your life and reflect on His faithfulness to you up to this point in time, it is difficult to not stand in awe and thankfulness as you recognize the Lord’s daily, moment by moment mercies that have sustained you.
He has been with you in every trial thus far. And He will be with you in every trial that is sure to come. He never abandons or forsakes His children.
#2. A submission to God’s sovereignty in the present.
God isn’t just the Lord of the past, He is the Lord of the present. This is His world. He is sovereign over it all.
To thank God in the midst of a crisis or trial is to say, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I submit to Your sovereign purpose in this situation. I trust that You know what You’re doing and will work it together for good because You are good.”
#3. A trust in God’s sufficiency for the future.
A thankful heart rests upon the all-sufficiency of God, knowing that even though we don’t see how He is going to do it, He will meet our every need as we cast ourselves on Him. Not just today, but tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. As Peter reminds us,
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
In the face of pain and trial, may the Lord help us to cast our anxieties onto Him because He cares for us. He really does. He loves us perfectly in Christ.
By His grace, may He cause us to be a thankful people knowing that thankfulness to God in all circumstances actually leads to the perfect peace of God we anxious ones so desperately need and long for.