St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-81
There’s a prayer of Thanksgiving in our Book of Alternative Services (p. 129) that speaks to giving thanks in all situations. “We thank you for the splendour of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.” So far, an easy, inclusive, not too personal, hymn of praise.
But a little later on it says “We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone…” We might find that part catches just a little bit in our throats.
When we are in the middle of trying times, when life has given us lemons and we really don’t like lemonade, it’s very difficult to give thanks to our Lord for present ‘trials, temptations and tribulations’. Our focus tends towards prayers of deliverance, on healing, on results that will end the time of frustration, or unsettledness, suffering or despair. At an even deeper level, if we are not satisfied with our lives, or with ourselves as persons, as we wave failures, or weaknesses or insecurities like a red banner over our heads, any thanks to the Lord might as well be annotated. Thank you Lord that I am healthy( I wish I could be slimmer). Thank you Lord that you have given me this gift(Why don’t more people appreciate it?) Thank you Lord, for all my blessings. (If only I could be richer, happier, more successful.) How often do we thank God simply for life itself? And, for most of us, ‘dependence’, even on God, is not something we want to advertise. We want to stand on our own two feet; do it myself, said the little red hen; to be strong and independent.
Is it not a sign of spiritual maturity when we can acknowledge that it is only when we surrender that control that we will grow in faith? And then we can pray with true humility and honesty, “Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.” ?
“If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings…
But I just thank you Father for making me, me…
”The Butterfly Song 1974 Words and Music by Brian M. Howard