Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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. Philippians 4:4-7
Do you struggle with anxiety? I sure do. There are so many dangers, struggles, and painful situations that we face in life. It is easy to be anxious, but God gives us the command, “Do not be anxious about anything…” When life is a struggle, this command seems unreasonable. Thankfully God, doesn’t simply tell us to stop being anxious. He doesn’t pretend that we don’t have anything to worry about. Instead, He tells us what to do with our anxiety. The verse continues, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The concerns of life can feel like a terrible weight. God invites us to bring those concerns to Him. He is in control, and He is strong enough to carry them.
There are a couple words in that verse that could seem out of place. I’m talking about he words, “with thanksgiving.” It makes sense to bring our requests to God in prayer when we are anxious, but what does thanksgiving have to do with it? When we are anxious, we don’t really feel like being grateful.
Think about how this can work. There is a situation in your life that you are worried about. You can bring the situation to God in prayer, but what if you also thanked God for how He helped you through a difficult time in the past? As you think about God’s goodness and faithfulness to you in the past, you will be more confident that He will be good and faithful in your present situation. Gratitude helps get your focus off your problems and onto the God who can take care of your problems.
The greatest way God has provided for us in the past is through sending Jesus, to live, die, and rise again for our salvation. We can bring our problems to God, thankful that He took care of our sin problem. We can bring our pain and sorrow to God, thankful that Christ won heaven, a place with no pain or sorrow, for us.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this month, maybe you will find it easy to be thankful, but maybe you won’t. Maybe you are facing situations that will make it easier to be anxious than thankful. Remember that being thankful isn’t just for when things are going well. Gratitude is essential when things aren’t going well. May God encourage and refresh you as you take time to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day and every day!