I tend to have a lot of words. If you’ve read some of my blogs, you know I’m not exaggerating. My oldest son Jack also has lots of words. Runs in the family.
But the 5 words he said over a dinner prayer one night shifted my entire attitude towards my view of prayer.
For family dinner we usually sit down and Jack will more often than not offer to pray. For a just-turned-4-year-old we’re always impressed that it’s on his heart to thank the Lord for our meal. Go for it kid. Get it! Truly, it’s like a secret way for parents of kids this young to hear what’s bouncing around in their heads and hearts at the moment. We always smile because something pops out that is hilarious without the intent to be funny. Authentic memory making.
Jack’s prayers usually goes something like this:
Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for all my planes and toys and my brother Charlie. Thanks for my mommy and my dad. Thanks that I got on my pants today by myself for class and that I love my class. And thank you for our needs.
Steve and I sat with our heads in our hands one night, staring at each other. Say wha?! Thanks for our needs? Where did he get that? Our son had spoken words straight from Jesus’ heart and yet they seemed foreign and almost “wrong” hearing them spoken like this. Thanks for our needs.
Hmmm…I needed to dissect that a bit as we ate dinner. Just shootin’ straight from the hip: that is not my normal response when I pray. My prayer life is special and very private. I rarely share it with anyone other than if something is pressed upon my heart or if Steve and I are sharing something we’ve both been praying about. I will admit, that being thankful for a need has never been my go-to.
“Hey God, thanks that I have needs. Thanks that I don’t know where I’m headed. Thanks that we struggle each month. Thanks that I can’t see far enough ahead to plan for all the unknowns. Thanks that we not immune to sickness or heartache or battles or frustrations. Yeah, thank you for all that.”
You’re kidding right? It seems wrong to be thankful for all of that because really what thanking God for those moments means I don’t have it figured out and that I’m admitting I have a need beyond myself.
Whoo…Jack, your prayer is nagging at a pretty deep heart piece and yet the simplicity of his approach of just tossing it in amongst the planes and toys seemed too easy.
That night, in that instant, the Lord used the heart of my 4-year-old to remind me and my husband and everyone we’ve shared that moment with, that we should be thankful IN all things. There is a simplicity beyond the complexity.
IN the mess. IN the unknown. IN the joys. IN the highs. IN the lows. IN the yuck.
“Give thanks in all things.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and while I believe that, hearing it explained as simply as “Thanks for our needs God.” about did me in.
I’m tentative to say this, because there is deep sorrow and heartbreak in life, I’ve experienced moments of it as I’m sure you have as well.
Thankfulness doesn’t override reality. What it does is start to change our hearts from anger to peace. It doesn’t take away the truth of a situation that just plain sucks. It turns angst to calm even if only for a split second.
There is freedom in the relinquishing of a thank you and admission of need in a moment.
One day, if not already, we will be able to stretch our neck up and out of those sorrows and say “Thanks for that piece of it.” Not thanks that I’m wounded. Not thanks that the hurt was caused.
THANKS that you were with me in it when I didn’t see you or even feel you.
For now, if you’re not there, don’t pretend. You don’t have to smile. You don’t have to fake it ’til you make it. Be encouraged that the promises of the Lord are enough to sustain our hearts in our present grief as we journey forward towards finding joy again.
Need extra encouragement? These 20 verses on thankfulness are great reminders.