November 27, 2020 – Friday
The Day After Thanksgiving Day
Philippians 4:5-7 NIV
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.
In the NIV, this is the last verse containing the word thanksgiving and it is somewhat unusual. Why is it unusual? Consider with a mild word order change, In very situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God with thanksgiving, do not be anxious about anything. Or even shorter, With thanksgiving present your requests to God.
Thus, in a time of need, we are told not to be anxious about anything. Anything! And no matter the situation, we are by prayer and petition (appeal, plea, request) to present our requests to God with thanksgiving. Prior to receiving any answer at all to our pleas, prayers, requests, petitions we are to bring our requests to Him with thanksgiving.
MacLaren’s Expositions calls this the impossible injunction and it certainly seems so as MacLaren writes: It is easy for prosperous people, who have nothing to trouble them, to give good advices to suffering hearts; and these are generally as futile as they are easy. But who was he who here this?’ A prisoner in a Roman prison; and when Rome fixed its claws it did not usually let go without drawing blood. He was expecting his trial, which might, so far as he knew, very probably end in death.
Everything in the future was entirely dark and uncertain. It was this man, with all the pressure of personal sorrows weighing upon him, who, in the very crisis of his life, turned to his brethren in Philippi, who had far fewer causes of anxiety than he had, and cheerfully bade them ‘in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make their requests known unto God.’ Had not that bird learned to sing when his cage was darkened? And do you not think that advice of that sort, coming not from some one perched up on a safe hillock to the strugglers in the field below, but from a man in the thick of the fight, would be like a trumpet-call to them who heard it?
We now know it is Paul who wrote this directive and the dire straits he was in when he wrote it, still with thanksgiving? MacLaren comments further; ‘By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.’ That thanksgiving is always in place. If one only considers what he has from God, and realises that whatever he has he has received from the hands of divine love, thanksgiving is appropriate in any circumstances. Do you remember when Paul was in gaol at the very city to which this letter went, with his back bloody with the rod, and his feet fast in the stocks, how then he and Silas ‘prayed and sang praises to God.’ Therefore the obedient earthquake came and set them loose. Perhaps it was some reminiscence of that night which moved him to say to the Church that knew the story–of which perhaps the gaoler was still a member–’By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God.’ The key phrase for me is thanksgiving is appropriate in any circumstances.
It is the day after Thanksgiving Day but let us remember Thanksgiving (to God) is appropriate every day in any and all circumstances.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Help us to remember how much we have to be thankful for each and every day no matter our circumstances. – In Jesus name. Amen.