And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…

…will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I’ve heard a cancer patient talk about how difficult it was when she was waiting to hear back about whether it would be a serious cancer or not. It was a rough month of waiting and not knowing. Then she realized this: that the result that came back did not matter, but if she would receive whatever news with the peace of God, having trusted his goodness in either scenario, that was what mattered, and what she had to cultivate.

Coming from November 11th, Remembrance Day here in Canada, and the associated stories of soldiers told by family members who remember God’s faithfulness in narrowly saving this soldier or bringing that soldier home despite the odds, it remains that more still were not spared the bullet and were not brought home safely. What of God’s faithfulness to their family? As such, it is essential to cultivate a thankfulness and remembrance of God’s faithfulness in all circumstances, to not reduce God to being powerful only when He is granting our desires against all odds, but to see Him as mighty to accomplish His good, pleasing and perfect will even through everything that is not so pleasant.

This is still beyond my understanding.

Self-talk: encouraging yourself to praise

David sets an example of the psychological principle of self-talk. Just like the psalmist asking himself why his soul is downcast in the famous depression psalm (Psalm 42), here David tells himself to praise God, and gives himself some solid indisputable reasons to believe it too.

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

[OF DAVID.]

[103:1] Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
[2] Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
[3] who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
[4] who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
[5] who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
[6] The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
[7] He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
[8] The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
[9] He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
[10] He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
[11] For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
[12] as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
[13] As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
[14] For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
[15] As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
[16] for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
[17] But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
[18] to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
[19] The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
[20] Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
[21] Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
[22] Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

(ESV)

Thanks!

Blessings are sweeter the more bitter life tastes, and brighter the darker the outlook. Ergo, praise God, the source of all good! He alone is worth being thankful for, to us who have hope through Jesus to one day be with Him, but in the meantime, He doesn’t leave us who live on earth devoid of anything substantial to be thankful for either. Just a few ideas to get you going and inspired to “Thank the Lord!” quite literally:

  • friends that help you pack and move house
  • older and wiser men who give tell-it-like-it-is advice you don’t like but know is good
  • fantastic timing to receive a thoughtful text from a friend
  • friends who travel an hour just to be with you when you need the company
  • friends who consistently check up on your well-being
  • Bible-centered weekends with wonderful women of all ages!
  • our freedom from sin and its effects through our enslavement to the perfect Christ
  • paying $210 in lost wages to learn the hard lessons about being firm, sticking to your guns, and not naively trusting strangers to act honestly
  • the peaceful solace of nature
  • learning to enjoy talking on the phone (a lost art in IM / texting world)
  • the opportunity to witness progression in part of one of God’s long-term projects
  • the opportunity to have been patient in love for part of one of God’s long-term projects
  • the energy to run through the forest for hours!
  • the beautiful mystery that is glowing fireflies at dusk
  • ability to do friends a favour
  • the thrill of roller coasters
  • open channels of communication
  • girl times (setting up BBQs, spray painting, learning to drive standard, jumping over fire and running through mud, camping… you know, the typical… ok, shopping and making food too)
  • studying the God’s word with people regularly, always with someone even if not everyone can make it each time
  • the tastiness of fresh sausages from the farmer’s market
  • the tastiness of bacon in any package or of any brand
  • getting a good deal
  • being able to sympathize with someone who suffers something similar
  • learning how to small talk
  • learning how to consta-talk whatever you’re thinking to fill empty sound-space
  • the satisfaction of feeding hungry people
  • mommy!
  • daddy!
  • getting a positive reply to a job application after you get a negative reply from another one
  • sending friends off to embark upon the great journey of marriage
  • opportunities to be honest even if it sets you back
  • opportunities to see your own flaws and mistakes
  • the emotional release of crying (applicable to both genders y’know!)
  • the emotional release of full belly laughing
  • new beginnings
  • new friends
  • old friends
  • pleasant surprises
  • solid pastors
  • good books
  • free time to read good books
  • inspired authors
  • people who throw good parties
  • people who enjoy the food you make enough to clean off the dish
  • opportunities to be honest and vulnerable with people
  • opportunities to let people help you
  • having access to a car, and all the mobility that entails
  • the wonder of fire
  • learning the art of making successful campfires
  • the refining fire that is opportunities to practice patience
  • a collection of solid prayers for times when you don’t know what to pray (The Valley of Vision)

Labour at Prayer

A public service announcement brought to you by the Letter to the Colossians.

1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…

1:9-14 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us form the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

4:3-4 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for your message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I an in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

4:12b He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

There you have it – a Colossian reminder to pray continually. Because praying is the great work of God at work. Because a simple childlike prayer is all that is needed. Because prayer is the battle. Because it is not just about the thrill of seeing prayer answered. Because it is simply following what Christ commanded.