“Thanks” Series—Guest Post by Mel Wild

CC BY-NC, alkimista85, Flickr

CC BY-NC, alkimista85, Flickr

This post is the fifth and final one in this week’s “Thanks” series that features quotes on thankfulness given by notable Christians. Mel Wild, writer of In My Father’s House, reflects on the following quote by American pastor A.W. Tozer.

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”

A.W. Tozer is hitting on something profound here: What should faith really look like in our lives? What determines our thankfulness to God? The implication is we generally prefer to live by a substandard faith—according to what we can see, hear, touch, taste, or feel in our current experience—and praise God only for realized blessings.

But if our faith is what is already realized tangibly, is it really faith anymore?

True faith simply believes what God says about things, even when it seems untrue or contradicts our current experience. It’s not a blind faith either; instead, it’s aligning our thoughts with the concrete reality of what God believes. This requires trust in the One who is doing the promising.

God seems to think that all of his promises to us are “yes” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), whether we’ve realized these blessings or not.

The Eyes of Faith

Purer faith is seeing things through heaven’s eyes rather than from the ground view of our circumstances. This is why Paul is always reminding us to set our minds on “things above” where our real selves reside—with Christ seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). True praise that really pleases God is based in this kind of faith (Heb.11:6); in fact, there really is no other kind.

We tend to default to our earthbound thinking, which is subject to all kinds of not-so-good things. In our spiritual ignorance, we erroneously call that the real world. But if we’re going to let the tail wag the dog on faith, so to speak, putting our experience before believing God’s promises, then we will never live a consistently thankful life, let alone a faith-filled one. It will be a life driven by circumstantial winds and waves, possibly ending up shipwrecked on the rocks of what we have interpreted to be unfortunate happenstance.

Receiving God’s Promises

Here are some points that will help us stay in faith for those unrealized promises.

  • First, consider that believing always precedes receiving. New territory in the Spirit must be accessed by faith. There is no other way to grow into areas we currently have no grid for. The forward motion our life needs is propelled by our faith.
  • Second, remember that whatever we focus on gets bigger. We all focus on something, good or bad. So where is your focus this thanks-giving season? Are you focusing on God’s goodness or your experience?
  • Third, God’s timing is oftentimes not our timing. So always remember that “he who has begun a good work in you is faithful to complete it” (Ph. 1:6).
  • Fourth, ask yourself if your unmet expectations are God’s expectations. Realign your thoughts with his thoughts and lay all your burdens on him. Feel his smile and open your heart to the warm embrace of the Father’s heart.
  • Finally, remember that a thankful heart is a joyful heart at rest in God, content wherever it may find itself (Ph. 4:11). It’s always time to praise God for his goodness. Don’t let the enemy dis-appoint you from your fruit-bearing destiny as a co-heir with Christ. Look up! You are seated with him far above all the things that weigh you down. You’re an eagle, not a turkey!

Let’s determine this Thanksgiving season that we’re going to believe God and cultivate a lifestyle of faith with gratitude for all that God has done and is going to do, even if he decides to do it in a way we don’t expect. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Read more by Mel on his blog In My Father’s House.

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Our Confession

CC BY-NC, arbyreed, Flickr

I believe God: To proclaim this requires trust in a sovereign God who has his purposes with our successes and our failures. Too often our belief is merely our focus on the resolution of problems we require God to solve, when God is attempting to place our focus on him as the priority while we are in our situations.

If in our trials we received all that we asked of God—every quick deliverance and comfort—we might be hard-pressed to differentiate faith in God and magical charm. Obviously, believers are not exempt from life’s tough times; things will not always go our way. But real faith focuses one on God’s character and his purpose and not mere solutions by him. It demands trust in a God who understands our cares better than we do and who possesses the power to use even our trepidation in his plan to make us better people for him.

So when we say that we have faith, we must do so searchingly to ascertain whether we’re truly relying on God or relying on an outcome. Will God come through for us? Indeed he will. Every time? Absolutely. But when how we may need him isn’t apparent or quickly resolved, we must also believe that his help to us is deeper and more extensive than we can presently see. God is providential, thus always at work in the lives of his people bringing about his purposes and for his own glory. Let us also not forget his affection: He is for us.

Our situations have never surprised God and do not hinder his plans. But he wants our confidence resting in his unfailing character regardless of the crisis. Otherwise, our problems become magnified and he is diminished.