I am not a mathematician, but there are times when 6 + 8 = 7. Sometimes God’s ways don’t make sense to our human minds (Isaiah 55:8-9). Maybe you have been there. It has taken time but I have learned that God’s ways do “add up” correctly.
When life is out of kilter, the journey to peace does not have to be complicated. Best of all, we don’t have to figure it out for ourselves. The Bible tells us how to find peace.
When God’s ways don’t make sense- look at the number 6
Verse 6 of Philippians chapter 4 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” (NIV) Notice there are three elements here: prayer, petition, and thanksgiving.
Finding peace is much like a stool with three legs. To prevent the stool from toppling over, you must have all three legs.
For the longest time, I was really good at prayer and petition. But I have to admit I did not understand the importance of gratitude. For years I told myself I did not have to be thankful for the event that was distressing to me. I referred to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which reads,
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
I told myself that scripture says to give thanks “In everything,” NOT “For everything.” I don’t believe that anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. God does not intend for us to be jumping for joy when bad things happen. Jesus himself wept (John 11:35). We live in an imperfect world full of unpleasant things that are the result of sin. Since scripture interprets scripture, when we come across verses that do not make sense, we must look at other parts of the Bible for the rest of the answer. I have finally learned that gratitude is an important part of finding peace. Without it, our faith could easily topple over.
Giving thanks in awful circumstances
How can we be thankful in the following situations?
- When your spouse abandons you?
- When you lose your job?
- When a dream you have worked hard to accomplish ends up crumbling before your very eyes?
- You fill in the blank _____________
This is what I am learning to pray:
“Jesus, right now I don’t feel thankful. But I realize that gratitude is a choice. Thank you that you can make this into something good. I don’t know how, but I trust you. Help my attitude to be one that brings honor and glory to you. Help me to learn as much as I can from what has happened so that I can comfort others going through the same situation.”
That is a prayer that God loves to answer. The thoughts come from Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:20, Psalm 51:10, and 2 Corinthians 1:4.
Praying scripture can be powerful. The situation might not change, but we can have peace about it.
Acknowledging God in awful circumstances
When we trust God with our circumstances, we can sing with Ryan Stevenson this amazing song, written after he lost his dad to cancer and his twins to miscarriage. Take a listen.
“You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn. Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm.”
When God’s ways don’t make sense- add the number 8
Verse 8 of Philippians chapter 4 reads, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (ESV)
As a daily habit, and before tragedy or calamity strikes, we should be identifying things that we are grateful for. These are the good, true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable things we are to think about. However, if this has not been your practice up to this point, start being grateful right now. Start a gratitude journal and be blessed by it.
Reap the benefits of the number 7
Verse 7 of Philippians chapter 4 is the result of combining verses 6 plus 8. Here is what happens:
“And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your heart and your mind through Christ Jesus.”
Peace is a gift from God if we follow His principles.
Where do I start?
When God’s ways don’t make sense, finding peace has a starting point. It is in a relationship with Jesus. From there Philippians 4:6-8 will begin to make sense. If you don’t know Jesus or have questions, please call 1-888-NEED-HIM. Or, you can “chat” at www.chataboutjesus.com. Someone is waiting there to talk to you.
A scripture card for “When God’s ways don’t make sense”
The following scripture card is free. NO EMAIL REQUIRED. Simply click on the image to download. When printed on card stock, it can easily be laminated and hung by ribbon.
If you are looking for further scripture cards or coloring pages, go to the resource page. Additionally, almost every post includes a free item to download. Enjoy!