No Dates. Thanks God!

On this Monday before Thanksgiving, we gather in every corner of the world to fast and pray for men—that God would raise them up and embolden them, for women—that our hearts would be soft clay in God’s hands, and for marriage—that God would give the gift of marriage to those who desire it.

Happy Thanksgiving, FastPrayers!

Even though I know from our blog stats that we have readers all over the world, I wanted to wish you a happy Thanksgiving anyway.  Many Americans will be carving huge turkeys, playing football, and stuffing their faces with pumpkin pie later this week, and I wanted to take just a moment to reflect on authentic gratitude. What does it really look like to be thankful?

The Bible has some pretty radical statements about being thankful.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5

I am definitely feeling thankful about some things in my life. I love my job. I have great friends. And, my church is pretty great. But, 1 Thessalonians is pretty clear that God isn’t asking me to just be thankful for the good things or the things that I enjoy or the things that are going well. Paul writes that we are to give thanks in ALL circumstances.

Can I be thankful for the fact that my dating life is essentially non-existent?

Does the Lord expect me to be grateful that I have experienced two deaths in my family this year?

Can I be thankful for feeling lonely?

Is it possible to give thanks without being able to feel thankful?

If you’ve been around FastPray for any length of time, you know that impossible Scriptural commands frequently make me want to pull my hair out and stress eat a bag of Reeses—because I see that huge gap between where I am and where God calls us to be.  As I was praying through these issues, I came across this helpful quote from another blogger, in a post entitled, A Practical Theology of “Thank You.” He writes:

I firmly feel that by commanding us to say “thank you” in order to follow His will, God subtly tries to teach us to see things from His perspective.  Behind that decidedly small phrase, a whole weight of glorious promises awaits us:

That He will never leave or forsake us.  That perfect peace will wrap us round.  That, circumstances decidedly notwithstanding, God yet has plans for us, plans to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future.  That He continues to rejoice over us with singing, not matter how dark the night or bitter the tears.  Than nothing, nothing, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ.  Nothing.  And oh, thank God for that.

To me, saying “thank you,” especially when I hardly feel or believe the words coming out of my mouth, serves me as a way to write a check with my lips that only the love of God can cash.  It helps me to create with my words a heart at least [able] to acknowledge aloud that loving hands hold me, that Someone knows my name and my circumstance, and that He truly will make all things well, makes all manner of things most well.

So, can I be thankful that I can’t get a date to save my life? Can I say thank you for that holiday loneliness that I feel creeping on? Yes–but only because in God’s grace the faithful practice of saying “thank you” teaches me more than finding myself on a date tomorrow night ever would. 

God commands us to give thanks—because He loves to gently shape and form our hearts. He knows where you are and whether or not you have much that you feel like giving thanks for or much that grieves your heart. He wants your thanks because He wants you to remember that He’s good and that He is in control.

You are all in my prayers.

Anna

This entry was posted in Author: Anna and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to No Dates. Thanks God!

  1. HS says:

    I just wanted to share a blog post written by thedatingmanifesto blog author on giving thanks for being single. It is a great tie in to this post
    http://thedatingmanifesto.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/being-thankful-for-being-a-singleton/

  2. Deb B says:

    It’s all about learning to trust God and His goodness…thanks for an encouraging post!

  3. Julie says:

    Beautiful posts and comments! Thank you all for sharing! It helps me to remember that EVERYTHING is Providence….that what might seem like a disappointment could acutally, mysteriously, be a blessing. For example, if you have your heart set on a certain guy, and for some unknown reason he stops calling, it could be God protecting you from something. Or if you want to get a job, and then you don’t get it, it could be because God wants you to get a differnt job in a different city, where you will meet your future husband. So while it’s hard to do, we should trust that GOD WORKS ALL THINGS FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM, and that His Providence, even if it “feels” discouraging or heart-breaking, is somehow, mysteriously, nothing but His love & goodness. In the words of St. Edith Stein:

    “Whatever did not fit in with my plan
    did lie within the plan of God.
    I have an ever deeper and firmer belief
    that nothing is merely an accident
    when seen in the light of God,
    that my whole life down to the smallest details
    has been marked out for me
    in the plan of Divine Providence
    and has a completely coherent meaning
    in God’s all seeing eyes.
    To be a child of God,
    that means to be led by the Hand of God,
    to do the Will of God, not one’s own will,
    to place every care and every Hope in the Hand of God
    and not to worry about one’s future.
    On this rests the freedom and the joy of the child of God.
    But how few of even the truly pious,
    even of those ready for heroic sacrifices, possess this freedom.
    When night comes, and you look back over the day
    and see how fragmentary everything has been,
    and how much you planned that has gone undone,
    and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed:
    just take everything exactly as it is,
    put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him.
    Then you will be able to rest in Him –really rest –
    and start the next day as a new life.”

    Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D.

    A blessed, restful & trusting Thanksgiving to all!
    Julie

  4. angiemoret says:

    Thanks, Anna, for the reminder of where to fix our gaze.

    Personally, it’s been really important in my relationship with the Lord to understand that the Scripture says to give thanks *in* all things rather than *for* all things. The Lover of our souls does not ask us to be thankful *for* sin or its effects. He hates evil and mourns with us in its wake. He calls us to be thankful in all circumstances for Him, His nearness, His love, His promises, His providence, His power. Sometimes this might be a sacrifice of praise. Being thankful for junk can actually take our focus off of our Lord and may actually cause us to see Him as less than loving while focusing on Him in the midst of the junk takes our eyes off of the junk and on Him. This little distinction can be very meaningful and can result in a lot of freedom…at least for me.

    Many blessings!

  5. mkate2012 says:

    Your post matches what I read in “Jesus Calling” today. I’ve shared it below. Thank you for your work and effort of encouragement on our behalf!
    “Thank Me frequently as you journey through today. This practice makes it possible to pray without ceasing, as the apostle Paul taught. If you are serious about learning to pray continually, the best approach is to thank Me in every situation. These thankful prayers provide a solid foundation on which you can build all your other prayers. Moreover, a grateful attitude makes it easier for you to communicate with Me.

    When your mind is occupied with thanking Me, you have no time for worrying or complaining. If you practice thankfulness consistently, negative thought patterns will gradually grow weaker and weaker. Draw near to Me with a grateful heart, and My Presence will fill you with Joy and Peace.”

    Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
    —1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 kjv

    Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
    —James 4:8

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    —Romans 15:13

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Amen! Thank you, Anna.

    And you know, God just might be up to something, because my friend just posted something similar. (Click on my name to read her post).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s