Psalm 139:1-16 (NIV)
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
A big part of our Christian calling is simply to trust. We worship a steadfast God who is both with and for his people.
But there are countless instances in our lives where trust is tested and threatened. When the crops are withering away in the summer sun, begging for rain that is not in the forecast, and it looks like the harvest season will be met with a ruined crop – trust is tested. When our family is experiencing turmoil as a result of bad decisions – trust is tested. When our bank account looks like the school bully turned it upside down and shook out the last of its lunch money – trust is tested.
When trust is tested, anxiety often follows. Sometimes desperation kicks in, and our minds race with all kinds of possibilities of what might occur, and what we might be able to do to keep it from occurring. These are the times when we petition God – “Lord, please don’t let this happen.”
Do you ever wonder if God thinks, “Who said anything about that?! What do you mean, ‘if there is no harvest?’ What do you mean, ‘if my family falls apart?’ What do you mean, ‘if I have to file for bankruptcy?’”
One of the disciplines we are called to practice is the discipline of continuously giving thanks, even (and especially) when it doesn’t seem to make sense to do it. Giving thanks reshapes our mind around the truth, rather than the lies that enter our minds when we begin to think about all of the worst possibilities that could come out of our situation.
So when the crops are scorching, we learn to pray “Lord, you have always provided for my family. I know that I can trust you. Thank you for being a God who is thoughtful of me, who does not forget me, and who provides. Thank you that you have blessed me with the ability to collect a harvest in the past. Thank you provide for me in the present. I trust you to – and thank you for – providing for me in the future.”
When our family is in turmoil, “Lord, thank you for this family that you have blessed me with. Thank you that you care for each one of us, and thank you for the ways that you are working to bring healing into our lives. May we receive from you, and may this time of difficulty be a time of abundant blessing as our eyes become even more fixed upon you.”
When it looks like we might have to get out the red pen to balance our checkbook: “Lord, I thank you that I am in your hands. I thank you that I am surrounded by people who love me. I thank you for a church that cares about me. I thank you that though I am struggling, you are with me. And I confess that you are my provider. I am not my provider. You have always been faithful to me, and though I don’t know what our future will look like, I know that it will be with you, and you will see us through it, whether my checkbook balance improves or even further declines. You are faithful to me. Thank you.”
Gratitude is worship. It is confessing who God is, as best we can comprehend Him, and it is an expression of trust. Can you see, in those prayers of thankfulness, how trust emerges? In the most difficult of times, if we can find ways to thank God it will help us to learn how to trust Him.