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What has the power to turn a heart’s gaze to hope, peel away a complaining attitude, and open the door for peace?

Thankfulness.

Being thankful shows self-pity the door and gives contentment the best seat in the house.

Even in the most meager, terrible, or desperate circumstances we can choose to be thankful for something…even everything.

When I read the book “The Hiding Place” about Betsy and Corrie Ten Boom’s experience in a Nazi concentration camp during the holocaust, I was moved and humbled by Betsy’s constant thankfulness.  In the face of cruelty and horrendous day-to-day living conditions, she kept her face turned toward Jesus in hope.  She didn’t complain but instead kept thanking God for everything, much to the amazement of her sister Corrie, who admitted sometimes she wondered if her sister was from another planet.

One particular situation stands out in my memory:  The sisters were living in a barracks with other women prisoners, sleeping on filthy mattresses that were stacked on one another and stained with urine.  Betsy and Corrie would hold quiet Bible studies on top of the mattresses at night for the other prisoners who wanted to draw near to God, a light faintly shining in the midst of that awful, heavy darkness.  The barracks became infested with fleas and one night when Corrie was complaining, Betsy reminded her that the Bible says we are to thank God in all circumstances.  Corrie replied incredulously, “We’re supposed to even thank him for the FLEAS?!”  Betsy nodded.

It turns out that because of the fleas, the guards avoided patrolling nearby their barracks and they were able to continue their Bible study, unnoticed and unhindered for the time they lived in that building, and their fellow prisoners found hope.

This week I was presented with the idea that praying with thankfulness helps us focus on God and not our problems.  In it we proclaim trust in Him.

It’s true!  After initially asking God’s help with something we need or are concerned about, how about if every time after that when we think of that need we pray with thankfulness?  It’s a way of saying, “I’ve brought this to you and I know you’re going to answer so thank you, God.”

Instead of praying, “God please be with my girls and guide them into their futures.  Please keep them safe and near you.”  I pray, “God, thank you for guiding my girls and watching over them.  Thank you for the bright future and plans you have for them.”

It’s a prayer bathed in trust, it helps my heart rest at ease when I pray that way.

A friend at work was extremely distressed the other day, moved to tears, upset enough that she couldn’t talk about what was wrong.  I could hear her and was worried about her.  I prayed for her, then each time after when I thought about her again I would purposefully pray, “God, thank you for helping my friend.  I know you see her and know her need.  Thank you for her and for your help.”  It forced me to trust and not worry, to remember that God is in control and not me.  He can bring the answer, not me.  He is trustworthy.

Try it!  It has really enhanced my prayer life this week, and probably forever.

In thanking Him, I don’t try to take my request back and work out the answer for myself.  In thanking Him, I’m saying I know and believe He is doing something to answer my prayer.  In thanking Him, I might be saying “this hurts or I don’t understand but I trust you, God, so thank you.”  Thankfulness = trust in God.

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