It was 2 am. My four-year-old had woken up with a bad dream. I went into her room, gave her a kiss on the forehead, gave her some half-asleep words of assurance, and adjusted the blankets. She went back to sleep immediately. I, on the other hand, did not. As I returned to bed and pulled the thick blankets over my shoulders, my mind began buzzing:
Did I say the right thing to so-and-so?
Am I making the right choice about such-and-such?
What should I do about X?
The thing is, all of these thoughts were truly minor things, but at 2 am, my brain can’t seem to recognize this. So I prayed, “Lord, help me not to worry about this stuff. I’m putting it into your hands.”
I prayed similar words several times, but again, my brain didn’t seem to get the memo.
After an hour and a half of this, I pulled myself out of bed with a sigh. I grabbed my phone off the dresser and headed to the couch. I read an uplifting spiritual blog post and a passage from Psalms. I felt calmer, encouraged. But, I was still not yet on the brink of sleep.
As I pondered what to do, I was reminded (Providentially, I think) of this verse:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:6-7
Well, hadn’t I let my request be made known to God? Hadn’t I offered up prayers and supplications? Why did my heart and mind not feel the peace of God enough to drift back off to sleep?
Then I realized that there was something there I had missed:
… but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…
Thanksgiving. I had asked for help but had forgotten to give thanks.
I pulled out my phone again, brought up a blank note, and this time made a list — a blessings list.
I listed family and friends and just-right circumstances and physical blessings and spiritual ones — everything I could think of in those wee hours of the morning. Then I began praying a prayer of thanks for each one.
And you know what? I didn’t finish the prayer. I fell asleep.
In so many situations, it seems that if we will simply remember to give thanks, the things that caused anxiety no longer seem like such a big deal.
Feeling worried about the future? Count all the ways God has let you through the past.
Concerned about physical life — things like food and clothing and money and shelter? Thank God for the myriad of ways that he takes care of you physically already.
Feeling angst toward a particular person? Give thanks for all the many good things about them.
When worry clouds your day, pray about it — with thanksgiving.
And when anxieties keep you awake at night, don’t count sheep. Count your blessings to God.
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. — 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Photo credit: Kinga Cichewicz via Unsplash