So I thought that I would spend my half-hour walk in prayer, but to tell you the truth, “prayer” probably meant complaining to the Lord. I could imagine myself grousing to God about all the major and minor trials in my life, and then asking Him for deliverance from them, and failing that, for more patience, greater strength, deeper peace, etc., etc.
I kind of knew that I would end up in a worse mood, on top of which I’d feel guilty for a lousy attitude.
So I decided to do something different. I decided to see if I could thank Jesus 50 times in the course of a short walk.
I began with mundane stuff. Thank You, Jesus, that my leg doesn’t hurt like it did yesterday. Thank You, Jesus, that I have a day off today. Sounds pathetic, probably, but you have to start somewhere. Then I started thinking about the bigger picture. I began to thank Christ for people who stood by us and supported us when we were missionaries. Thank You for John and Marlys, Tom & Debbie,
I thanked Him for dear friends in the past and present, naming each one. I gave thanks for the wonderful families in my church, and named them.
I thanked Christ for the gospel, and how I had heard and believed it so many years ago. I thanked Him for the people I’ve had the privilege of seeing come to faith in Him. I started thanking Him for the privilege of teaching the Bible, and then for specific Bible books. Thank You that I got to teach through Romans. I didn’t deserve such an honor. Thank You that I get to study and teach Luke. It means so much to me.
I thanked Jesus for the doctrines of grace, the wonderful truths of my Reformed faith that I came to embrace long after seminary. Thank You for revealing how totally fallen and tainted by sin I really am, and for Your blessed and unconditional election. Thank You, Jesus, for Your effectual atonement, that You actually and not just potentially save people. Thank You for your amazing and irresistible grace! Thank You for preserving and protecting those whom You redeem, and making sure they get safely Home. Thank You for including me.
By this time the dog and I were on the return leg of our walk. I started thanking Jesus for my family. Thank You so much for my precious wife Dionne, for bringing us together and keeping us all these years. Thank You - she means everything to me. I thanked Him for my sons, Andy and Zach, and for the privilege of being their dad. And I thanked Him for Cheryl and April, my daughters-in-law, and for what wonderful wives and mothers they are. Thank You, Jesus, for each of my grandchildren…and I named all six in turn, including the one I’ve started calling “July baby,” since I know her ETA but not her name yet.
By the time Jethro and I got back to the car, my thank-you’s numbered into the 60’s, and my mood, which had been in the pits, was now in a humble and peaceful place.
Being grateful to Jesus for His wonderful grace is not a technique for mental health. It’s a command (see 1 Thes. 5:18), a duty, and a tremendous privilege. The fact that it makes us feel better is just a bonus. Because even if it didn’t, Jesus still deserves it. Thank You, Jesus, for being my Savior and King and Friend, my Teacher and Comforter and Shepherd.Thank You that all the moments of my life are under Your careful and loving hand.