Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 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
On Thanksgiving Day it’s easy to feel thankful. Smells of cinnamon rolls in the morning and turkey in the afternoon. Warm sweaters, full tummies, time with family and friends. It’s like the tastes and the smells and the time together were created for gratitude. How can we not swell with thanks when everything is so comfortable and warm?
But after the turkey gets cold, when the family leaves, when Monday morning rolls around again, it’s those everyday worries that start to steal thanks away from our hearts.
Anxiety kills peace and it’s hard to believe that so shortly after the peace of a Thanksgiving meal that anxiety can fill that same belly that was full of pumpkin pie just a few days before. But isn’t that how this works? Isn’t that the fate of this fallen world? To worry about our bills, our families, our callings, to try to control everything so that the worries won’t consume us, yet somehow the worry of control consumes us anyway?
Yet this is what the Scriptures say: Do not be anxious about anything. About…anything? Can you be serious? How is that possible? Is it possible?
It is, but you’ve got to see, you’re gonna look crazy to this world. You might look crazy to your family. Goodness…you may even look at yourself in the mirror and laugh and say, “Wow, you are so crazy!” Because here’s the thing, regardless of your situation, an act of thanks has the power to usher you into the peace of God.
Can you see it right here in these lines from Paul’s letter? With Thanksgiving. We talk to God about…everything. We present our requests (all of them!) to Him. And then these are coupled with thanksgiving! Why? Oh gosh, I hope we can see! Because when we understand this – ah! Everything changes...
What kind of God is this that allows us to speak with Him? What kind of God is this that asks to hear our requests? What kind of God Loves each person so intimately that He takes the time to listen to every single thing we individually bring to Him in prayer.
It’s like Paul couldn’t even wait until the end of the thought to say, “Give thanks.” He had to just put it there in the middle of it all. With Thanksgiving!! It’s like he was so overcome by the amazingness of this Almighty, All-Knowing God and the fact that He hears and listens to our every prayer and petition that he couldn’t imagine not giving thanks before moving on with this letter!
And oh, that Thanksgiving? That’s where the grace starts to trickle in. When we see our God for who He is: faithful, loving, kind, able to complete what He has begun in us, Provider, King, and Friend…we open our hearts to the gift of His peace. See, it says it right here! The peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
IS THERE ANYTHING MORE AMAZING THAN THIS?
I can be bedridden in illness, but I can have the peace of Christ.
I can be unsure of where my next meal is coming from, but I can have the peace of Christ.
I can be seemingly stuck somewhere that looks like a dead end, but I can have the peace of Christ.
I can be rejected, betrayed, abandoned, stolen from, but I can have the peace of Christ.
That’s where this transcends understanding bit comes in. Because it doesn’t make sense. Our circumstances point to anything but peace, but peace (the powerful, all-consuming peace of CHRIST) is promised to us if we simply tell God what’s on our minds and in our hearts, while thanking Him because His Grace is overwhelming!!
He gave His life for me! How can I not thank Him?
He has given me a hope and a future! How can I not thank Him?
He has redeemed my life from sin and death! How can I not thank Him?
He promises to give me His peace when I simply transfer my cares upon His shoulders! Oh Jesus!! How can I not thank Him?
A life of thanksgiving is an invitation for Christ-peace to rush in, a peace that leaves joy and wonder in its stead as we stand awed by the hand of God at work in our lives, even (and maybe especially) in the hard stuff. Ann Voskamp says it best (doesn’t she always?): “As long as thanks is possible, then joy always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning –now; wherever, meaning – here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be - unbelievably – possible!” (1000 Gifts, chapter 2)
Let’s be people of thanksgiving. Of that Eucharisteo that brings miracles (thanks again, Ann). Let’s be an odd people that are light of soul, filled with peace, no matter what we face. Aren’t we to look strange to the world? Aren’t we to be a city on a hill, ushering others into the light that we live in?
This is how we do it. This is how it happens.
What a wonderful adventure. What an amazing God.