Saturday, September 7, 2013

Not just that You would, but that You are

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving...

                                        Psalm 50.14

For years, I couldn't quite understand the phrase "sacrifice of thanksgiving."  If one is thankful for something, how can that be a sacrifice?  Surely praise is a more appropriate response for what we are thankful.

And then in the midst of a desperate situation, I found myself praying, "O LORD, that You would do this... that You would make that to happen."  I stopped mid-sentence.  How would a thankful heart pray?  "Thank you that You are doing this...or that."

A sacrifice of thanksgiving is not after the "answer" has arrived on our doorstep, but in the midst of God's working, thanking Him for what He is doing now.  Even when I don't understand.  And in the process, I am not telling God what to do and how to do it, but trusting Him and thanking Him for what He is doing.  It is praying from a stance of thankfulness, not placing before Him praise for what we consider good, but trusting God in what we cannot see yet, trusting Him in what we cannot possibly know, giving God the elbow room to work things out His way and in His great timing, and thanking Him even before we know the outcome.  In a sacrifice of thanksgiving, our focus is not just on the object of our prayer, but on Him.  Thanking Him not just for the doing, but Who He is.

And so I pray, not "O God, that You would provide him an apartment," but "Thank you that You are providing him with a place to live and guiding him to it."  Not, "O LORD, that You would change her heart," but "Thank You that You are changing her heart."

And somehow in the process, He changes mine.

He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice
                      honors Me,
to him who orders his way aright
I will show the salvation of God.

                                Psalm 50.23

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