DayBreaks for 10/11/13 – On Even the Darkest Days
Philippians 4:6 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 (MSG) Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
It’s easy to miss part of the point of today’s text. Yes, we are not to be anxious…we tend to focus on that…and we are to pray about it. But there’s a conditional statement attached to the praying: with thanksgiving (NIV) or praises (MSG). Notice that this is in a verse taking about things which cause us anxiety. We are talking about making petitions for things to change. So where does this thanksgiving bit come in to play? And is it even possible?
I believe it is, even if I often fail at it. There’s a great story about a brave and thankful heart behind one of the church’s most popular hymns, “Now Thank We All Our God.” This particularly hymn was written during the Thirty Years War in Germany, in the early 1600s. Its author was Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in the town of Eilenburg in Saxony.
Now, Eilenburg was a walled city, so it became a haven for refugees seeking safety from the fighting. But soon, the city became too crowded and food was in short supply. Then, a famine hit and a terrible plague and Eilenburg became a giant morgue.
In one year alone, Pastor Rinkart conducted funerals for 4,500 people (that’s an average of over 12 persons per day for an entire year!) including his own wife. The war dragged on; the suffering continued. Yet through it all, he never lost courage or faith and even during the darkest days of Eilenburg’s agony, he was able to write this hymn:Now thank we all our God,with hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done,In whom the world rejoices …[So] keep us in His grace,and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills,in this world and the next.
Even when he was waist deep in destruction, Pastor Rinkart was able to lift his sights to a higher plane. He kept his mind on God’s love when the world was filled with hate. He kept his mind on God’s promises of heaven when the earth was a living hell. Can we not do the same – we whose lives are almost trouble-free, compared with the man who wrote that hymn?
I’ve not done 4500 funerals in my life! The key is being able to give even for the things that are driving us to pray, the situations that are so dire we may feel we cannot bear it for even a moment longer. When we do, it is a recognition that God is trustworthy and that we are trusting Him to do something momentous and wonderful even through life’s most distressing trials.
Thankfulness is something I have to work on. How about you?
PRAYER: Lord, I’m not good at praising you for the trials and hardships. I confess that it reflects a lack of trust and faith in you when I fail to do so. Help us learn to be thankful in everything! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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