“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” — Philippians 4:6
Before we go to God to ask Him for anything, we need to be thankful for all that He’s given us, all that He’s done, and most importantly, all that He is. Our God is constantly revealing His character to us, displaying His power, wisdom and love for us to see. Our first priority should be to praise Him for who He is — the all-powerful God. Without Him, we are nothing.
A thankful heart is one that is continually praising God — not only for the big things, but for the little things as well. Praise God for every breathe He gives you; praise God that you are alive. Do you have a roof over your head? Praise God! Do you have a meal to eat? Praise God! There are so many things we could easily take for granted, but the reality is that God has provided for all our needs and we need to acknowledge this in our everyday lives.
Even in adverse times the Bible says we are to rejoice. Yes, it can be hard to be joyful through trials and tribulations, but if we are faithful even in the darkest moments, He will bring us through. I know for me, it’s helpful to look back and remember the prayers He’s answered in the past. Focusing on His provision and faithfulness makes it easier to go to Him during the hard times. With this confidence, we are able to approach the throne room with boldness, trusting that God is able to do all He says He can. When we stay close to Christ, this is not a long-distance ask.
I specifically remember a time when my daughter, at 6 years old, suddenly started having a seizure. My wife and I were terrified, we didn’t know what to do. For a full 30 minutes, our daughter was having this seizure, and meanwhile, we didn’t know what would happen. Would these continue for the rest of her life? Would she come out of this? We felt helpless. The only thing I knew to do was pray: “God, I can’t do anything here, so I’m relying on You.” We called our friends, family and our brothers and sisters in Christ, asking for them to join us in prayer. Before we knew it, our daughter had made an incredibly speedy recovery and has not had one episode like that since.
We never really knew what happened, but we’re so thankful it hasn’t again. It was a very dark time for us. Questions and fears plagued our minds and hearts, but God brought us through. And since then, we’ve been able to relate to and encourage many friends of ours who have gone through their own scary moments with their kids. We know what a great Healer our God is because we can look back to when we experienced His miracles firsthand.
But sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers. I think back to last season when I was playing for the Browns and it seemed like everything was going wrong. I kept asking God to turn our season around, to give me some sign of hope that all our hard work would eventually pay off. It never did. I received no sign and we only won one game all season. I was trying to lead our team well but I couldn’t understand what was happening. I would pray and pray for things to change, all the while saying, “No matter what, You are still God. Your ways are higher than mine; Your thoughts are higher than mine. I know that all things work together for Your good and I trust in Your ultimate plan.” Now as I look back I can see the full picture — how God used that time to refine me and bring others closer to Him.
There’s so much I’m thankful for, not only in the past but in the present. I’m thankful for my wife. I’m thankful for my kids. I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful that I can play this game. And if everything was taken away from me — if this world passed away — I would still be thankful because the thing I’m most grateful for is my relationship with God.
Eventually everything will be gone; the only thing that lasts is our relationship with Him. My name is written in the book of life, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what He’s done. With Him is where I’ll be spending eternity, and for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.
— Demario Davis
Demario Davis is a linebacker with the New York Jets and a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.
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