I realized lately that I had lost some of my faith. I had gotten discouraged. I had stopped believing that things would work out. I was tired of feeling hormonally depressed and moody. I was feeling like my work hadn’t been effective. Many of my studies had petered out.
It was so good to do a study on some of the passages where Jesus gives thanks and praise to God.
“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” (John 11:41-42)
Jesus took it for granted. God ALWAYS heard him. And God ALWAYS hears me as well. I need to have this same confidence. I need to thank God that He hears me. AND, as Jesus did, this thanks needs to be expressed BEFORE my prayers are answered.
- This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. I John 5:14
- …in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. . . At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. (Matt 11:23-26)
This passage is amazing to me. Jesus failed in many places. He didn’t just preach the Word, he did miracles, and people STILL didn’t believe.
That is encouraging to me because I wonder sometimes why more people don’t respond to the gospel, why more people don’t want to give their whole heart. It is helpful to realize that Jesus, who was much more effective, was up against the same thing.
Yet he didn’t get discouraged! He thanked God. How mind blowing is that? Jesus saw the people who DID get it, and he thanked God for them.
So as I was feeling discouraged, I remembered the people who got it. Douglas is a new Auburn student from Brazil. We have enjoyed having him at our house a couple of times. He studied the Bible and responded to the message, in spite of severe persecution from his parents. He had to count the cost more than anyone I’ve seen in a while. But he said, “How can I not respond to the cross?” He GOT it. And I AM so very thankful.
We have a young woman from Brazil, Daiana, who is also studying. She also seems to get it. She is so excited about the church family she has found. She told me that coming to church makes her feel clean. She told me, face glowing, that she wants to get baptized as well.
I have to always remember to thank God for the people who get it. God’s will, His good pleasure, IS very definitely being accomplished. There is nothing I can do but PRAISE!
“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)
And this is one of the very next things Jesus says. We focus on this passage so much as a stand alone passage, but maybe it is connected to the words above. Maybe Jesus said to come to him for rest because we also are weary and discouraged by those who don’t get it.
As Jesus said a few verses earlier, “How can I describe the people who are living now? They are like children who sit in the marketplaces and shout to other children, ‘We played music for you, but you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song, but you didn’t show any sadness.’ (Matt 11:16-17)
People often don’t get it. I don’t know why. I don’t know how to fix it, any more than Jesus did.
I do know some things that are effective, and I will continue to do these things. I will pray, fast even, and THANK GOD as I pray. I will serve and love people, share my life with them, expose them to the power of the Word.
But I must come to Jesus and rest. If I am discouraged, something is wrong. The Christian walk cannot be a heavy load. It instead should be punctuated by thanksgiving and praise, defined by a trusting faith that God IS achieving His good pleasure.