July 26, 2019
In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul writes: “I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” In Greek that word content carries with it the sense of being grateful. Honestly, I must admit that there have been many times in my life when I could not find a way to be grateful for what was happening to me or to someone in my family. These words were difficult to accept because they seemed to contradict my image of a loving and caring God.
I thought I was being called to find a way to thank God for illness, hardships, injury, injustice, violence–and the list could go on and on. Many times, I wondered, how could this be true? Does God really want me to be thankful for everything? Is that what Paul was saying? I did not want to be part of a church that believed in a God who, metaphorically, would point a finger and say, “You get to have cancer.” My resistance to accepting this as true led me to study, in depth, those verses in Philippians.
What I discovered restored my image of a loving God and nourished my faith. There is a line later in this passage that says: “I can do all through the power of the one who gives me strength.” Paul was not talking about giving thanks or showing gratitude for tragedies or difficulties but being grateful for the grace and power of Jesus that leads us through these times.
When I realized this and reflected on my life, I saw clearly how many times I was bolstered by the prayers of others, by the invisible power of the Holy Spirit, and by a loving God who truly cared for my well-being. Expressing gratitude is not always easy; yet it can be a way to lighten a load that you or I may be carrying. Because when we give thanks for God being there, for Jesus showing us how to live, or for the Holy Spirit empowering us with wisdom and courage we will be opening our hearts and our lives to God. Yet, gratitude can still be difficult when life is full of challenges.
Come join us in worship this week, July 28, as we continue our sermon series looking at Words to Think About–Part 2. Join me as we further explore gratitude and the question: “Are we to give thanks to God in all circumstances, even those that are difficult?”
A Prayer: Gracious and loving God, life is not always easy and sometimes it can seem overwhelming. Help us to remember that you are there to guide and equip us for any circumstance we may encounter. May we learn what it means to live lives filled with your grace and discover the power of gratitude. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Blessings, Pastor Evy