Yesterday we wrote about the fact that thanksgiving helps us when we need to renew our strength because it slows us down and helps us to focus on the Lord and who He wants to be for us in the situation. It helps us to fill our gaze with the beauty of the Lord as we do that ‘waiting’. A second reason why thanksgiving can help us to renew our strength, is linked to the first and it is because thanksgiving helps us to replace any negativity in our hearts and minds, with faith and hope.
We probably all know, but may be don’t fully realise, how draining negative thoughts can be. Just as we know that ‘joy’ gives strength, so we need to know that worrying, fretting, impatience, irritation etc., all drain energy from my ‘system’. So does doubt, discouragement and disappointment. You can just give yourself a little check on this by asking yourself the question, “When do I feel most like springing out of bed in the morning? When it’s early but I have a flight booked to go on a great holiday that day, or when it’s normal waking time but there’s a really hard day ahead of me, filled with things I’d rather not be doing, and I am also carrying memories of yesterday that didn’t go so well either?’
Thanksgiving not only keeps my gaze on the Lord and who He is and what He has already done for me, as we were saying yesterday, it also blocks us from the negative draining thoughts and feelings. Thanksgiving fills us with hope and joy and anticipation of His presence and His coming to us, rather than the kind of anticipation that makes us weary.
This could be why, when we turn to the Lord to ‘wait on Him’ it probably needs to be different to praying about a situation. It can be so easy, if we just pray, to do our worrying on our knees and find that in fact we are using the time to rehearse our problems, (which the Lord knows about anyway!!) As we ‘wait on the Lord’, we need to fill our hearts with praise and worship as well as telling the Lord our needs and requests. Paul writes, ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving’ Colossians 4:2 NASB.
The energy imparting thoughts and emotions, the natural antidotes to weariness, come as our mind is filled with positive things like hope, joy, vision, and faith. Thanksgiving helps to fill my mind with memories and thoughts of past ‘triumphs’ and interventions by the Lord, and hopes for future ones.
We can learn this from Jeremiah, who pours out his soul to the Lord in what sounds like desperation, and then says ‘but never the less, this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope’ (an energy inducing emotion) he continues, ‘because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him”. Lamentations 3:21-24.
This is wonderful ‘self talk’. He is lifting his gaze to heaven and reminding himself of the Lord’s love and mercy, and declaring his hope in the Lord’s faithfulness for the future. So for us ‘waiting on the Lord’ to renew our strength when we are weary, will involve all those things too, and this can often begin with some simple thanksgiving.