Monday, November 19, 2007

A Happy Thought for the Holiday

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. (I Chron. 4:10, NIV)

Most of you are probably familiar with the prayer of Jabez. It was all the rage a couple of years ago to pray the "Jabez prayer." Not long ago, I had a thought about it.

God granted Jabez's requests not only for enlarged territory, but also for God to keep him free from harm and pain. But how did Jabez know that God had granted his prayer? He had to have faith that he had received God's answer, that God was good. Jabez had to keep trusting in that answer every day of his life. Otherwise, it wouldn't really have made any difference. Without faith, Jabez might have started every day in fear and dread, expecting the worst, even though God had granted him the best.

I want that kind of faith. I'm a pessimist by nature. I come from a family of pessimists. In my family, if anyone asked, "Are you going to do such-and-such this weekend, " the answer would be, "If nothing happens before then." The implication was that we fully expected something to happen--and we didn't mean something good.

So I've had to work at the kind of faith that expects God's love and protection every day. Thanksgiving has a lot to do with that. If you constantly thank God for what he's already done, you're reminding yourself of his goodness, and it's easier to expect it the next time. Have you ever noticed in the Bible how many times God reminds the Israelites, "I am the God who brought you out of the land of Egypt"? He's constantly reminding us, "I've taken care of you before. I'll do it again."

So with that happy thought, I'm going to sign off for this week. We're making a nine-hour trip to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's family. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, that God will keep you safe whether you travel or stay home, and that we'll all truly be thankful.