I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers. Philemon 4 (EHV).
Let’s be real: this is a tall order. ALWAYS is an absolute word. “Remember” is something we don’t consciously do enough. And “thank my God” is both intensely personal and intensely devoted at the same time.
Always thank God and remember others; do it even when it’s tough. Thank God when things are good; thank God when things are bad. Just thank Him anyway, no matter where you find yourself, what kind of day you’re having. Thank Him when your boss calls you to let you go. Thank God when your boss calls you to give you a promotion.
Thank God for people like my friend, Raymond, who pastors multiple congregations in Africa while also farming his homestead and teaching dozens of other young men and women to do the same. My friend is one of a kind but, come to think about it, so are you. So am I. There are more people like Raymond than there are the folks who skid to just get by. They live their lives for others to give glory to Jesus; thank God for them.
And thank God for people like my uncle, Buzz. My wife and I went to Buzz’s funeral last week. What could have been a depressing day was made wonderful by seeing the hundreds of friends and family who gathered to memorialize him. They did that because Buzz was a Godly man who did his best and followed Jesus. I think more people ‘saw Jesus’ because of the kindly way Buzz lived than all the times he worked in formal ministries or led activities for the church. He left the world a better place than he found it because he lived his life in praise of Jesus. Thank God for men like him.
It can indeed be a tall order to thank God when life seems to just beat us down. But that’s what Paul did for Philemon, who was faced a tall order himself. Philemon didn’t have to forgive Onesimus; Philemon didn’t have to free his slave. But Paul intervened for just that to happen. It happened because of the example Christ set for these men.
And that example is a tall order even in our world today. Our world, like Paul’s, is set against the Lord. The world says we should let anger burn, get even, focus on Number One. This business of following this Jesus is foolishness, a waste of time, even wrong-headed.
Do it anyway. Thank God anyway. In the face of all the negativity, live thankfully. Thank God for the adversities, for the hurt, for the trials. Thank Him, have faith in Him, then get back up and get into your day.
For further reading: Romans 1:8, Colossians 1:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Philemon 5
Lord God, I thank You for the trials that will come my way today. In all things good and otherwise, may Your Name be praised.