(Study drawn from a Bridgetown Church podcast, 24.3/20)
We have so much to be thankful for. It’s true that this changes through our lives. Sometimes, for some even right now, it may be difficult to see beyond today’s trials. But even when limited by the current lockdown I believe ‘an attitude of gratitude’ is a vital aid for rising above the worries that threaten to pull us down.
There is so much anxiety in the world at present – what Paul might call a spirit of fear (Rom 8:15). How do we combat a spirit of fear with the peace that Christ offers? We have recently heard the phrase: gratitude is the antidote to anxiety and fear. But how exactly does that work?
Towards the end of the Simplify series we reflected on establishing a rule of life – i.e. a daily rhythm of living that helps us to function in a chaotic and busy world. The concept is often attributed to monastic orders but actually personal rules of life can be traced back in the Old Testament.
Establishing a rule of life:
READ Daniel 6: 1 – 16
The build-up to ‘Daniel in the Lions’ den’ is far from a cute kids’ story but a tale of machination and scheming to try to bring down a gifted and godly man. – What are Daniel’s enemies actually objecting to? – How does Daniel respond? – What do we learn about Daniel’s rule of life? – How might this support him as an exile within a pagan government? – “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed ‘giving thanks to God.” What does this detail tell us about Daniel’s thrice daily prayer routine? – How might this practice of regular Thanksgiving help Daniel? What we read is that ‘He gave thanks to his God.’ Daniel’s impulse in his spirit, even in exile, was to continually give thanks to his God.
Lessons from Paul
Read Col 3: 15-17. Notice how Paul links peace and gratitude.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- How many times does Paul evoke thanksgiving as a coping mechanism?
- What comes first: peace or gratitude?
Now read Phil 4:4 – 7 : Paul links peace and gratitude with anxiety…
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Rejoice… be thankful… Do not be anxious. Is this a sequence or cycle or both?
- ‘In every situation…’ must include our present situations in lockdown
- Reflect on the past 24 hours. When was anxiety prevalent?
- What could be practical strategies to help confront worry and anxiety?