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A Prayer for Gratitude and Promises
By Mary Southerland
I will give thanks to Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness, because Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name (Psalm 138:2).
I know life can be hard. Some of you are in so much pain that it is almost a grueling task to just breath. But God knows where you are and what you are going through – and you really can trust Him. The apostle Paul had a firm grip on this truth when he wrote:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11-12).
Paul understood and lived by the truth that God is constantly at work in and around us, monitoring every step we take. Paul examined every circumstance, understanding that it had already passed through His Father’s hands - with His permission. God came through for Paul, and He will come through for you. To find real security and contentment, we must learn to search for the handprints of God in the every day circumstances of life.
Paul had every human right to be angry with God. After all, Paul had been faithful. He had given up much and endured great pain. And yet the undercurrent theme of this passage is gratitude. Notice that it is an attitude chosen by Paul. It is a learned perspective. In this verse, “learned” implies that Paul was educated by experience. In other words, Paul was saying that all of his experiences in life, good and bad, had become his tutor in contentment.
The word content can best be defined as contained. Don’t miss this truth. Paul had trained himself to focus on his inner resources, the resources his heart contained, rather than the outward circumstances of his life. He chose to be grateful. He chose to praise God – period. We hear his determination in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 when he says, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus”.
Gratitude not only brings contentment, it yields perseverance and produces strength. God entrusts trials to us, giving us the opportunity to choose gratitude. It is easy to practice gratitude when the seas are calm and the skies are clear, but the real test of gratitude is in the midst of the greatest storm of our lives.
When our hearts are filled with gratitude, we will find contentment. Choose to practice gratitude. Gratitude is wrapped around trust and contains the element of acceptance. Gratitude understands that God is sovereign and that His ways are not our ways. There will be times when we find it impossible to understand His process, but we can always trust His heart. Remember, you can count on every promise of God.
Father, I come to You, confessing that I tend to have a heart that is filled with whining and complaining instead of gratitude. Please forgive me. Help me learn to see Your hand at work in my life. I want to trust You even when I don’t understand my circumstances. Right now, I choose to praise You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Editor’s Note: Content taken from the Girlfriends in God devotional, “You Can Count on the Promises of God,” written by Mary Southerland. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.