Last weekend I had the privilege of teaching Grace Church about how to breakthrough worry. (You can watch the sermon here: https://graceforohio.org/series/break-through/). Not necessarily out of the ordinary since the Bible talks about worry and I’m a preacher. But this time it was little different because I had the opportunity share part of my journey and more specifically part of my recent struggle with anxiety and how I’ve experienced a breakthrough.
My breakthrough came through prayer. Sounds good, right? Ask God to take it away and He does. Nope, that’s not what happened at all. I asked God to take it away but that didn’t happen like pressing a button or flipping a switch. Instead, I relearned what it meant to pray (to pray without ceasing). Talking with God about what I am thankful for started a renewal of my soul.
I began by talking thanks to God, which began to slowly take over my mind in thinking thanks for all things, which eventually spilled over to living thanks. I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all figured out. This isn’t the magic pill to solve your problems. It’s my story of God’s grace and I’m thankful for it – yep I’m thankful for the struggle and the breakthrough! This season of my life reminded me that my trust is in the only One who can do anything about everything.
For months I took the challenge from a dear friend to write down 3 things I am thankful for every day. Sounds easy, right? Well to be honest it seemed a little childish at first. Every night when we put our kids to bed we invite them to talk to God and tell Him 1 thing they are thankful for that day. My thankful prayers started by feeling about as deep as “thank you God for the cupcakes tonight.” But I didn’t stop just because it seemed weird. I kept going… a breakthrough tip.
And the thanksgiving started taking on more depth. It started revealing new dimensions of thanks that I had. I didn’t sense that I was ‘reaching’ for meaning or making up silly things to be thankful for, but genuinely being transformed by God’s grace and my thankfulness for it every day.
So here they are. My 3 things I am thankful for today:
My day began at sunrise and ended at sunset at the same little coffee shop. It began spending time with a man who I am supposed to be discipling but I’m learning just as much from him as he’s learning from me. It ended with two men who pray for, encourage, and challenge me to be a godly man, husband, father, and pastor. And the time between sunrise & sunset? I collaborated at work with colleagues, participated in a Google chat for a board I serve on for a church plant, and worked with my wife in parenting our kids. All connection. All Day. I am thankful for connection and the places we are blessed to foster connection.
I am a reader. An avid reader. I love a good book. I am not typically a fiction fan. I don’t read for entertainment, I read to learn and grow. My goal is to read 52 books one year. I might not get there, but in 2016 I’ve finished 10 (it’s week 14) so far. I am thankful for the mentoring, coaching, and discipling I’ve received from people I don’t know personally.
I am thankful that I am forgiven. I know that the penalty for my sin was paid for in Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins. I do not have to pay that price that I should pay for my sin. But today I was drawn to how thankful I am for the fact that the power of sin is removed in forgiveness. I was reading Colossians 1:14 in my quiet time today. I am thankful I have freedom in forgiveness through Jesus.
“I am thankful for…”
Those 4 words have become part of my breakthrough vocabulary. So how about you? Are you ready to try it for 7 days? 3 things every day. Write them down. Every day. Try it and don’t quit if it feels weird. Keep going and see what it does. Giving thanks is good for the soul. Thinking thanks is good for the mind. Living thanks is good for everyone!
Breaking through worry reveals just how much we have to be thankful for!