“Earlier this morning,” Stan commented while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, “I was reading in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Phillipi and I was struck by something I don’t do often enough in my prayers.”
“Drill down with my thankfulness,” Stan said.
“Drill down? In what way?” I asked.
“Really looking at,” he replied, “and focusing on all that God’s provision means so I can thank Him.”
“Like make a list of the different things about which you are thankful?” I asked.
“Not so much that,” Stan replied, “but more in the sense of layers of thankfulness.”
“Layers of thankfulness?” I said. “Like being thankful for one specific thing that has multiple aspects to it? You are thankful for a job because it allows you to do such-and-such for which you are also thankful. And that allows something else for which you are thankful. That sort of thing?”
“Yeah,” Stan replied. “That’s what I saw Paul doing in this particular letter. He wrote about sending a fellow named Epaphroditus to the church in Phillipi. Apparently the church knew this fellow and had been concerned that he had been real sick.”
“So?” I replied. “How does some guy who was sick a long time ago have any impact on you today?”
Rather than answering directly, Stan said, “Paul describes the fellow as having been so sick he almost died, but that God healed him.”
“So Paul was thankful for that?” I asked.
“He was,” Stan replied, “but the point that struck me is that Paul also said that he was thankful that God, by healing the sickness, had spared Paul the sorrow he would have experienced if the healing had not occurred.”
“Oh,” I said. “God healed the man, Paul was thankful for that healing, but Paul was also thankful that he did not have to grieve over the man’s death. Is that it?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And this made me think about how way too often I don’t drill down enough in my prayers of thanksgiving to thank God for all that His answers mean. I don’t give enough thought to all the things for which I have to be thankful.”
“Yeah,” I responded, “I see what you mean. Too often I will just thank God for such-and-such without thinking beyond the such-and-such to what the answered prayer means beyond the immediate. But I’m not sure how to do that?”
“For me,” Stan said, “it is helpful if I ask the Holy Spirit to open me to see all for which I have to be thankful — all for which I should thank God so my thankfulness is more complete.”
“And He will do that?” I asked.
“He’s called ‘the Helper’ for a reason,” Stan replied with a smile. “Yes, the Holy Spirit will help me so that so my thankfulness to God is not just casual and shallow, but drills down below the surface.”
Bible verses to consider:
For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Philippians 2:27.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. John 14:16-17.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision for every aspect of my being, including life eternally with you when it is time, along with the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus while you keep me here. I confess that too often my thankfulness to you is shallow in that I do not give enough thought to all that your provision means. Please forgive me for that. And please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead in being open to see and understand what your provision means so I can thank you as fully as you deserve and want. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Can you be thankful to God for your assurance of salvation and redemption? If no, why have you not accepted His free and gracious provision? If you are a Christian, how are you doing with really thinking about all for which you have to be thankful? Are your expressions of thanksgiving to God too shallow? Do you need to give more thought to all for which you need to express thanksgiving? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in that? If you sense the need for greater thought about being more thankful, as well as how you express that thanksgiving to God, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?