Recently I had another birthday. I wasn't expecting any major celebration, but until almost the last minute, I didn't have even the prospects of plans. There was some disappointment and discouragement in that unwelcome absence of anticipation. As it turns out, some friends spent the evening with me, which redeemed the day, but after I got home and the following day, I found myself extra discouraged.
As I evaluated why, I realized that my despondent mood didn't actually have much to do with the birthday itself. Rather, I was discouraged because I had reached another milestone in life without seeing desired changes. I was another year older and still alone. More disturbing was that I was another year older and my health had still not turned around.
As soon as my mind came to those conclusions, I knew I had discovered the source of my discouragement. I also knew that the needed response was for me to say some things to God. While someone may not immediately recognize it as such, being in a funk is usually closely related to one's thoughts and attitudes toward God. I was unhappy with what He was doing and allowing in my life. Instead of retaining those negative thoughts, I had to say four things.
1. I thank You."Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name" (Psalm 100:4).
"Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (Ephesians 5:20).
"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:18).
There is never a time when it is not proper to give God thanks. There is never a situation for which it is not proper to give God thanks. God gives to His children only what is for their good and only what will accomplish His good work. Humanly speaking, individuals may not see that good or even be able to imagine it, but everything that God does or fails to do is worthy of thanks.
2. I praise You."Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
"Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3).
"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials" (I Peter 1:6).
There is never a time when it is not proper to praise God. He is always in control. He is always doing His work. He is always good. He is always faithful. He is always working to accomplish His work in the world and in the lives of individuals. His amazing character and works are worthy of praise.
3. I trust You."Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it" (Psalm 37:5).
"You are good and do good" (Psalm 119:68).
"Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything" (Psalm 119:128).
"The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, 'Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand'" (Isaiah 14:24).
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
There is never a time when a believer cannot trust God. God knows exactly what He is doing. God always does what is right. God can orchestrate plans that man cannot comprehend. God can bring to fruition everything that He has planned. With a God so wise, so powerful, and so loving, there is no reason for man not to trust Him.
4. I yield to You."And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word'" (Luke 1:38).
"On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this,' will it?" (Romans 9:20).
"Submit therefore to God" (James 4:7).
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time" (I Peter 5:6).
There is never a time when it is not necessary to yield to God. Man does not have the wisdom or power of God. Man doesn't know what is right and would make the wrong choices on his own. Instead of stubbornly resisting and insisting on his own way, a Christian must yield to the One who truly knows what is best and who solely can accomplish His plans.
These four statements help to put life in perspective. They help someone to put himself in correct relation to God. They help a Christian to focus on proper, stabilizing thoughts instead of improper, variable feelings. Even if future birthdays go completely unnoticed, even if I am always alone, and even if my health never improves, I must deal with those disappointments by telling God, "I thank You, I praise You, I trust You, and I yield to You."