An excerpt from our new release, Strength for Tough Times by Maria Kneas:
Strengthening Our Relationship
When you know a good person intimately—when you really know their heart—then you have more trust in them. So how do we get to know God better? By reading the Bible (and asking God to help us understand it). The Bible shows us God’s character and His ways.
We can also get to know God better by spending time in prayer and worship. The Bible says:
Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Notice that the peace comes when we give things to God in prayer. It does not wait for how He answers our prayers. It does not depend on the outcome. The peace comes when we put the situation into God’s hands. The Bible says that we should cast all our cares (concerns) on God because he loves and takes care of us (1 Peter 5:7).
We need to develop the habit of being grateful for who God is and what He has already done for us. It is easy to take things for granted. For example, you are reading this book. Have you thanked God for the fact that you are able to see, and you know how to read?
If we look for things to thank God for, we will find more and more reasons to be grateful. And if we look for things to complain about, we will find more and more reasons to complain.
When the Israelites came out of Egypt and went to the Promised Land, they kept complaining. They got bored with eating manna every day and wanted to eat something more flavorful (with garlic and leeks). So they complained about the miraculous food that God provided. They complained when they had no water. God miraculously supplied water for them, but we have no record that they were grateful for it.
And what was the end of the matter? That generation died in the wilderness because they refused to enter the Promised Land when God told them to. They didn’t trust God to deal with the giants there.
This is an example of how a lack of gratitude can result in a lack of trusting God. And that can lead to a lack of obedience (i.e., rebellion against God).
Compare this with the attitude of King Jehoshaphat. When he and his people were threatened by a huge army, Jehoshaphat prayed:
O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
And God came through for them. He miraculously delivered them from their enemies.
We can choose to develop the habit of thanking God. We can look for things to thank Him for. We can thank God and praise Him even when we don’t feel like it.
We can deliberately choose to be grateful, and we can ask God to give us a grateful heart. The Apostle Paul exhorted us to have that kind of attitude when he said:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were sent to a Nazi concentration camp because their family hid Jews during World War II. Betsy died in that camp, but Corrie was released.1 After the war, Corrie traveled the world, telling people about God’s love. She knew first-hand how difficult life can be, when she said:
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.2
Betsy ten Boom was able to love the Nazis and pray for their salvation even while surrounded by the horrors of a death camp. Instead of seeing the prison guards as being monsters, she saw them as being trapped and tormented. She saw their need for God’s love and forgiveness. She prayed for their salvation, and by her example she led other prisoners to do the same.
Betsy reminds me of Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr. While he was being stoned by an angry mob, he prayed for his persecutors:
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)
At first Corrie hated the Nazis, but eventually she was able to forgive them. After the war she heard that Jan Vogel, the man who had betrayed her family, was in prison and was to be executed. She wrote to him, telling him that she forgave him, and telling him about the love of Jesus Christ. Shortly before he was executed, Jan Vogel wrote back to Corrie, telling her that he had become a Christian. From Strength for Tough Times by Maria Kneas. Order a copy for someone you know who is going through some tough times right now and needs to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and His Word. See the Table of Contents and Preface.