By Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
I know a lot of women who suffer from a noticeable deficiency of peace. I’m one of them sometimes. I’m not talking about a peace that equates to having a day with nothing on the calendar, plopping down on the sofa with a cup of hot tea and a good book. Not that this doesn’t sound inviting, but let’s be honest—that’s a rare occasion for most of us. The peace I’m talking about doesn’t require a mountain cabin or a getaway weekend. It can happen anywhere, even in the most hectic moments and places of your life.
But only because gratitude knows where to look for it.
It Takes More Than Prayer
If we were sitting across the table from each other, you could tell me what’s stealing your peace right now without having to think hard. You may be grieving a loss that never settles far from your conscious thoughts. You may be crying yourself to sleep at night over a situation with a son or daughter that is beyond your ability to control—a failing marriage, a little one undergoing diagnostic medical tests, perhaps open rebellion against God and against your parenting decisions. Maybe you’re facing some health issues of your own, or your income just isn’t meeting your monthly expenses, or your church is in turmoil over some hot-button issue.
We know that we can and should pray about these matters. But praying is not all that we can and should do. “Do not be anxious about anything,” the apostle Paul wrote, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7, emphasis added).
To put it even more simply: In every situation . . . prayer + thanksgiving = peace.
When prayer teams up with gratitude, when we open our eyes wide enough to see God’s mercies even in the midst of our pain, and when we exercise faith and give Him thanks even when we can’t see those mercies, He meets us with His indescribable peace. It’s a promise.
God’s peace is one of the many blessings that live on the other side of gratitude.
Prayer is vital—but to really experience His peace, we must come to Him with gratitude. Hard gratitude. Costly gratitude. The kind that trusts He is working for our good even in unpleasant circumstances . . . the kind that garrisons our troubled hearts and minds with His unexplainable peace.
Are you facing one or more chaotic, unsettled situations? Is your soul weary from striving, stress, and strain? There is peace, my friend—God’s peace—waiting for you just beyond the doors of deliberate gratitude. But the only way to find it is to go there and see for yourself. God’s peace is one of the many blessings that live on the other side of gratitude.
Go to God’s Address
God’s command to be thankful is not the threatening demand of a tyrant. Rather it is the invitation of a lifetime—the opportunity to draw near to Him at any moment of the day.
Do you sometimes long for a greater sense of God’s nearness? When pressures intensify, when nighttime worries magnify in strength, when the days are simply piling up one after another, or when life simply feels dull and routine, do you crave the assurance of His presence?
The Scripture says that God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3 KJV). God lives in the place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address.
This is a recurring theme in the psalms: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” (Ps. 100:4). “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving” (95:2). Thanksgiving ushers us into the very presence of God!
The tabernacle in the Old Testament was the place God set apart to meet with His people. In front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies—the sacred seat of God’s manifest presence—stood the altar of incense, where every morning and every evening the priest would offer up the sweet scents, representing the prayers and thanksgiving of God’s people who sought to draw near to Him.
Those ancient rituals were types and symbols of a relationship that we as New Testament believers can enjoy with God anytime, anyplace. Through His sacrifice on the cross, Christ has granted us access to the Father who dwells in us by His Spirit.
See what happens when you open your heart afresh to the Lord, moving beyond the normal, the canned, the almost obligatory phrases of praise and worship, where you truly begin to “magnify him with thanksgiving” (Ps. 69:30).
Yes, see if expressing gratitude to the Lord doesn’t “magnify” Him in your eyes, increasing your depth perception of this One who knows your name, counts the hairs on your head, and manifests His love for you with one blessing after another. See if the practice of intentional gratitude doesn’t transport you even nearer to Him—not just where your faith can believe it but where your heart can sense it. Thanksgiving puts us in God’s living room. It paves the way to His presence.
Copyright Revive Our Hearts. Written by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Used with permission. www.ReviveOurHearts.com.