The Surprise Blessing of Gratitude
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:6-7, NIV
This afternoon as I was praying for my son, I had an epiphany I wasn't expecting, but I guess that's why they call in an epiphany. I prayed for his salvation, for his love of God and people, and for him to be a great husband and father. It's a lot to ask the Lord for, but I know that He is fully capable and that He loves to give His children the desires of their heart.
The thought struck me after I prayed for him, that I was living the fruit of someone else's prayer, of my mother and grandmother's fierce prayers on their knees, and suddenly my heart was flooded with gratitude. While I may be always striving and dealing with the day to day issues of life, I am currently living as a testimony of their answered prayers and I rarely stop to consider that.
So I sat down and took stock of how the Lord's provided. I'm married, which is something I longed for my whole life, and to a good and faithful man who loves our family, with a gorgeous smile to boot. I have a son, and not just any son, but a vibrant, passionate creature, as full of potential as he is of giggles. I have a relationship with my Father God, the creator of the universe who for some reason I don't understand, saw fit to choose me before the foundation of the world and put his hand of grace upon me.
That's not to mention loving parents, a faithful church community, and lifelong friends who feel more like family. I have a home with a tree built for climbing and I get to serve in a co-op that regularly fills the sprawling Oak with children and their many smiles.
I have so much. And yet I strive. I crane my neck, desperate to look ahead into the future. I wonder if we'll ever have more children and how it will affect my son if we don't. I look for the next milestone in my writing business and wonder if it will ever "really take off." I wonder how all of the things I can't control will turn out ten years from now, when I can't really even control what will happen tomorrow.
Too often I forget that my kind Heavenly Father has a good and gentle answer for this. Philippians 4 reminds me that he wants me to bring Him my petitions. I love this because it makes me think of someone garnering signatures and shaking their petition in front of the state house. God knows I'm desperate in my requests, he knows the passion and worry I feel. I'm pretty good at bringing him petitions but far too often I forget the part about bringing it with thanksgiving.
As I sat today and remembered the prayer warriors who came before me, I realized that gratitude could be key to releasing our concerns to the Lord. When we are grateful, when we remember what the Lord has already done, it makes it so much easier to trust Him and like an open hand that offers leaves to the breeze, we can let go of the worries we hold too tight.
I'm not a theologian by an stretch of the imagination, so please don't take my opinion as fact, but I can't help but wonder if the thanksgiving in verse 6 leads to the peace in verse 7. Does being thankful as we wave our petition naturally flow to releasing that to God and being filled with His peace? My musings from my windowsill today offer that that's the case, so as best I can, I'll pray again for my son while thanking the Lord for His faithfulness and answered prayer throughout the years, as I release my fears and concerns to the only one who can answer prayer.