Joy, Prayer and Thanksgiving
by Glenn Washburn
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My classes with the Holy Spirit continue. Above is stated my latest lesson; learning to be thankful in everything, praying without ceasing and counting it all joy. This is not an easy lesson; but it is the will of God for me, just as it is the will of God for all of us who believe. However, this is not a lesson on feelings; it is a lesson on walking in the reality of my destiny as a child of God.
When I fell from that roof and hit the ground I was not joyful; neither did I feel like giving thanks. And in the painful days that followed (my operation, learning to walk again, learning to live with the disappointment of what I lost and the fear of what I couldn’t do) I admit I barely prayed at all, never mind “without ceasing.” However, as my classes continued I came into a fuller realization that my response to my present circumstances did not require me to feel joyful, thankful or prayerful. My only requirement was to walk in the reality of my destiny as a child of God. And put simply, that reality is one of joy, thankfulness and prayer. It has nothing to do with how I feel; only what I know. Very quickly, I was able to separate the enemy’s lies from His truth.
The lie that too many of us believe is that if we act joyful when we don’t feel joyful or enter into thanksgiving when all we feel is disappointment and fear; that we are being hypocritical. The fact is that feelings are not the catalyst to worship, joy and thanksgiving; they are the reward. It is hypocritical, rather, to do only what you feel like doing. Hypocrisy is not about doing or saying what is opposite or contrary to what you feel; it is doing or saying what is opposite or contrary to what you believe.
His Word instructs us to offer a sacrifice of praise. Clearly, this verse implies that praise will almost always cost us something; it does not always come easy. It requires sacrifice. And many times, I believe, that sacrifice entails putting aside what you feel and responding to what you know. His Word also says to “…enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise.” It does not say, enter His gates when you feel thankful. Thankfulness does not come out of how we feel but what we know. And it is the only way to ring the doorbell. Thanksgiving gets us in the door (gates) and praise/worship brings us into His presence (courts). Thanksgiving moves our heart and mind away from our present circumstances and into our present reality; that of being a child of the Living God. Praise moves us away from what we have (or don’t have) to Who we have. And prayer moves us away from our untrustworthy feelings and into connection with the trustworthy One.
God did not throw me off the roof to teach me a lesson; but lessons can be learned. Falling off the roof was not really a good thing so it did not come from Him; since He only gives good gifts. However, that does not mean something good cannot come out of it.
When I fell, I am convinced that my Enemy rejoiced in this opportunity to get me to feel sorry for myself or fill me with fear and doubt. He undoubtedly hoped that I would begin to doubt God’s provision and protection in my life; that I would question His love for me. Yet, it is this very tool that Satan hoped to use to distract me from my destiny and purpose that God has used to cement my resolve to discover that purpose in a deeper way.
God’s destiny for me is to make me like Christ. His will for me is that I may be counted as one of His trustworthy soldiers in helping bring about “His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.” I cannot enter into that destiny outside of a life of prayer, joy and thanksgiving. And I cannot help usher in the kingdom by allowing my trials to become larger than His presence. I am fully aware of my human limitations. I am also fully aware of who I am not and the length of the journey to become who He has predestined me to become. However, my goal and my hope is to live in such a way that I will live in a fuller awareness of His presence and who I am because of my relationship with Him than the presence of those things I have just mentioned. Many times I do not feel like His child nor do I feel His presence. Well, sometimes I don’t feel like I am the husband to Ellen, my wife, that I should be; but I am still her husband. And sometimes when Ellen is home I can hear her about the house; cleaning, preparing dinner or talking on the phone and sometimes she is so quiet I am surprised to see her sitting there when I enter a room; but because I was not aware of her presence did not mean she wasn’t there.
So I will continue to practice the discipline of praying without ceasing, I will continue to be thankful in all things and rejoice always whether I feel like it or not. Sometimes I won’t do a very good job of it; but that’s okay. I know the journey is long, and stumbling once in a while is inevitable. Success isn’t staying on your feet; it’s getting back on your feet when you fall.
And you know what….I feel pretty good about that!
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