When Gratitude Feels Unnatural
- Meg Bucher (Megs) Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2017 21 Mar
God places people in our lives who bother us. He sets us in situations that make us feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t always feel optimistic to live in the pocket of God’s will of our lives, even when we undeniably trust Him. But, there is one verse that can help us bound forward obediently, without having to paste on a fake smile through gritted teeth. Beyond the sustaining joy we experience from a life walked behind Jesus, we can reprogram our thought process to a happier tune though the instruction of Philippians 4:6:
“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.”
1. Turn your anxiety into prayer.
“Don’t be anxious about things…”
What do we do when worry starts to creep into our thoughts? Flip it into a prayer. For example, when worried about pain and sickness and lack of a cure, we can utter a prayer like this:
Father, Praise You that You are our healer. Thank You for listening to me when I call out to You in pain and fear. Forgive me for focusing on the pain and the seeming lack of solution. Help me to see You and trust in Your healing and Your timing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Worry and anxiety are triggers to pray. We are told “not to worry,” and to “cast our anxieties on the One who cares.” Not only does He care, but He can, and will, do something about it! God promises that He hears us, so when you worry, talk to Him. Jesus died to welcome this type of conversation between God’s people and their loving Father. “He longs to hear our requests,” and ease our anxieties through prayerful conversation about our worries.
2. Turn to your Compass for guidance.
“Pray about everything…”
When hiking in the woods, a compass leads us out. When lost in our thoughts, God is our Compass. Without Him, we focus on all of the horrible things in life that are getting way too close for our everyday comfort. We focus on the pain of disease instead of the hope of the Healer… failure to achieve instead of His power to conquer through us.
When we are only focusing on how we can solve life’s problems, we’re looking in. When we look to other people, we are looking around. We were created to look up to Him. “Talk to God about your needs and requests.” A good habit is to keep the conversation flowing with the One who cares about us more than anyone else. Enough to die for us. Grace gives us the opportunity to pray up, over speaking out or withdrawing from help.
3. Trust in His perfect plan.
“…be thankful for what has come.”
When we are having trouble being grateful, let’s remember that God is good. His plan for us is far better than whatever we are striving for outside His will for our lives. He created us purposefully, with a mission that only we are uniquely qualified to carry out.
When my kids are upset, I tell them to start listing everything they are thankful for. “Mommy, Daddy, Sissy, our house, books, food to eat, friends…” It starts out simple and childlike, just as Jesus instructed our faith to be. Saying things out loud and in prayer helps us realize how ungrateful we can be, skipping by what we have to be thankful for in order to air our list of daily woes.
Catch a grateful heart by starting small, by praying, “Praise You, Father, for this day.” He honors any time we set aside for Him. In addition to prayer, time in God’s Word will allow Him to speak life into our lives. The Word is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Start small. Read the Bible for five minutes in the morning. Check the verse of the day on one of the many free apps out there. Like prayer, God honors our efforts to search His Word for direction.
Father, Praise You for the power of Your Word. Through one verse we can learn so much about You. Thank You for listening to us! Forgive us for leaning on others to relieve our anxiety, and looking inward to our own capabilities. Strengthen our faith in Your love for us, and in Your promise to heal, uphold, and love us. Create in us grateful hearts. And remind us of all we have to be thankful for… even when we don’t feel like it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Meg Bucher (Megs) writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org. When she’s not writing, this stay-at-home mom loves to read and hang out with her husband, two daughters, and doodle doggy in their small little lake town. A substitute teacher and children’s worship leader, Megs has a heart for kids, family, friendship ...and calling to encourage others.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: March 21, 2017