“in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18
Just when I was so exceedingly close to receiving something I had so exceedingly wanted for so exceedingly long and was so exceedingly excited about how exceedingly wonderful it would be to finally get this exceedingly enormous prayer answered from the Lord to whom I had prayed so exceedingly much, I was exceedingly disappointed to discover He was not answering my exceedingly big heart’s cry to Him the way I had thought He would in the time I had hoped He would.
But I got an exceedingly big blessing when the Lord used one of my precious sisters in the Lord to hear my sadness and disappointment and to encourage me and to commit to continuing to pray for me, to convict me of the sin in my heart and lead me to repentance (for my bitterness, bad attitude, anger at God and another, etc.), and to lead me to the place He wanted me to be. The place He wanted me to be? Yes! The place He wanted me to be. And the place He wants ALL OF US to be. What place? This one.
By the end of my phone call with my friend, shortly after repenting earlier in the call, I knew I needed to pray again. So I did. And it was then I came to the place God wants ALL OF US to be. I recommitted my trust to Him. I acknowledged my desire to glorify Him including in this situation. And I chose – yes CHOSE – to be THANKFUL. Yes, thankful. For the Lord tells us to be thankful in everything and for everything.
Also in my call with my friend I shared with her how God had reminded me recently that my life belongs to Christ because Jesus bought me with the price of His shed blood on the cross so I could repent, place my faith in Him, devote myself to Him, and be given God’s forgiveness and a forever relationship with Him, and that I need to be willing to forsake everything for God. Even as I prayed with my friend, the Lord reminded me that even if He never answers this prayer, I need to love and trust Him and to be thankful and moment by moment to submit my heart and life to Him, to His sovereignty, will, plan, purpose, to His love, grace, and care, knowing He always knows what’s best.
Can you relate? Have you ever so exceedingly cried out to God for something and not gotten what you wanted, and been exceedingly upset because you had what you didn’t want, and wanted to bitterly rage at God and stomp away from Him in a tearful temper tantrum? In a heartbeat, I could have done that that day. But instead, the Lord led me to humble myself before Him, to submit myself to Him, and to choose in His strength to press on in following Him, no matter my circumstances, no matter my heart’s cry, and to follow Him in love, faithfulness, and devotion, remembering that no matter our circumstances, when we give ourselves utterly to Christ, there is no greater joy for those who follow Jesus than that we can draw ever closer to Him in forever fellowship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I knew that day God might well answer my prayer, in His time, but that was truly beside the point. The main point was this. I had come to the place He had been leading me for a long while. A place of love, praise, and thanksgiving, learning to unconditionally love and praise the Lord, to be thankful no matter what, because He is Lord, because those who follow Him get to be with Him forever, and because there is nothing more wonderful than being in His company forever.
No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges and trials, no matter our battles, no matter the details of our stories, no matter how good, bad, hard, easy, up and down, no matter what we face in our lives, no matter what we endure, no matter our blessings, no matter our obstacles and hurdles, no matter what, Christ’s followers can learn, and choose, and put into practice rejoicing in being loved by God, loving God, and being with God, in His presence, now and forever, realizing and being thankful that there is no greater hope nor joy nor praise no matter what our lives look and feel like than belonging to Christ forevermore!