There’s a tendency in my life, maybe in yours too, that I don’t connect brain to mouth when it’s important. For instance, Valentine’s Day is coming up—that yearly reminder that our significant other should indeed be significant. For me, it’s just one more reminder of how often I forget to tell my wife what she means to me. I think about her regularly, even to think positively of how important she is and what I treasure about her (rather than just the details of “Oh, I need to tell my wife X, Y, or Z). But that rarely means that information makes it from my brain into communication with her. In hindsight, I realize that this is detrimental to my own life—for sharing this care with my wife can only wind up benefitting both of us.
Now, I don’t want you to worry about the state of my marriage. It’s pretty stable and loving despite my best efforts to forget what I know is best (and maybe you can learn from my example how to be more conscientious in communicating with your significant other this Valentine’s Day). I write all of this to talk about a corresponding spiritual reality that happens in my walk with God. I am faced with various crises of one sort or another that create greater and lesser degrees of anxiety in my life. Due to these crises, I seek God in prayer, asking for strength, for relief, for peace, and any other number of things. Then, the event or crisis happens, I make it through it, and hindsight tells me that maybe that crisis wasn’t really so bad in the first place. Here’s where I fail to benefit spiritually. Maybe that crisis wasn’t so bad, but that doesn’t change the fact that I got what I asked for from God. Let me paint the picture another way. Imagine you were asked to write a poem—it doesn’t have to be long—but you knew in your heart that you were unable to do it, so you prayed for the ability. Then it turned out to be easier than first though, would you attribute that to the easiness of poetry, or the result of prayer?
Maybe both are reasons for why you were successful. But, in the long run, I think our tendency as people is to forget about how strong our fears were on the front end and chalk up the relief to our overreactions. Like I said, maybe that is true and we did overreact. Yet, we should not forget that God has indeed done something. God has walked with us in the midst of our anxieties. God has shaped us into the sort of people who persevere even in the face of our anxieties. And, God has helped us on the other side to gain some perspective so that maybe next time we won’t have a freak out, but will generally trust that God is going to get us through the current crisis. What will help us do this is thankfulness. Note the beginning of Psalm 40: I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD (Psalm 40:1-3). God’s deliverance from the difficulty resulted in thankfulness and greater trust. Let’s not allow ourselves to forget what God has done.