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Trusting Is the Ground for Thanksgiving

Elisabeth Elliot: I think that there are things done here in the world that would not be done unless they were prayed about, because God has so arranged the universe that our choices and our actions make a difference.

Lisa Barry: If you've been following along during the series on gratitude, then you won't be disappointed today as Elisabeth shares the antidote for anxiety. In fact, if the nearing of the holiday season sparks some fearful thoughts, then today's message is yours. Maybe it's the first holiday without a loved one, or you have to face some relatives you don't get along with. Or quite simply, you just feel overwhelmed. I think you'll have a new perspective when these 15 minutes are over, so get ready to receive words of comfort and admonition from Elisabeth as we begin this Wednesday edition of Gateway To Joy.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you again today about gratitude.

In Psalm 33:21 we read, "Our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name." Trust is the ground for our thanksgiving.

I talked a little bit yesterday about thanking God for the bad things that happen, as Habakkuk did. Even when there was no cattle in the stall, no figs on the tree, he said, "Yet will I rejoice in God my Savior."

Now humanly speaking, it makes no sense to rejoice when things are going badly. But Christians are not always "humanly speaking," are they? We're speaking divinely. We are using the words of God on which to found our faith. We stand on a rock that never moves. The world passes away, the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever. So trust is the ground for our thanksgiving, no matter what happens.

Let me say that again. Trust is the ground for thanksgiving, no matter what happens. God is in charge. He is still at work, even though it may not look as though He is. He is the God of deliverance. "The Lord is my strength and my song; He is become my salvation."

Speaking of gratitude, we appreciate the letters that we do receive. We thank you for your encouragement. Especially it's nice to know that I'm not really a voice crying in the wilderness. I'm not the only one in the whole world who has these bizarre views that are so unpopular today, that I'm always talking about on this program. I hope you don't think all of my views are bizarre. But at any rate, it's nice to know that there are ears to hear.

Are you feeling peaceful today? Worried? Loaded down with business or just with busyness? Dreading an interview? An assignment? A visit to the dentist? A phone call? That pile of ironing or correspondence? My daughter Valerie tells me that the two most difficult things to keep up with are the ironing and the correspondence. Dreading a meeting, perhaps, with a difficult person?

Well, let me give you some advice from the Apostle Paul. In Philippians 4, he writes, "I wish you all joy in the Lord. I will say it again, all joy be yours." Isn't that a wonderful expression? All joy be yours. Where are we going to get this? He gives us some clues in the sixth and seventh verses. "The Lord is near. Have no anxiety, but in everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, which is beyond our utmost understanding, will keep guard over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."

Just those four words, "the Lord is near," ought to give us plenty of cause for gratitude and ought to bring peace into our lives and banish the anxieties. He says, "Have no anxiety. Don't worry about anything at all, but in everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving." Don't leave that out. It's very important that we be thanking the Lord while we're praying. The secret of peace is prayer and thanksgiving. You do this and God will do the thing that you can't do. Ask what you will, and be thankful.

And not peace only, but peace which passes all understanding, passes anything that our poor minds can think, will keep these poor, breaking, restless hearts of ours and these wearying, worrying minds of ours in Christ Jesus.

While I was preparing this talk, Lars, my husband, was preparing our income tax. It is a huge and complicated job, because we don't go to an office and work a 9-5 day. We write books and do radio programs and travel and my husband sells books. Just a lot of different, very complicated things, keeping records of all our travel expenses and that sort of thing. So it is a huge job. It was so big, in fact, that it took space beyond his own study.

So he set up a table in the bedroom, which is just beside my study. My study opens off the bedroom. He was in there with piles of paper on the table, piles on the chairs, piles on the floor, ledgers, expense records, canceled checks, publisher's statements. He discovered that one very important paper, the Keogh retirement plan, was missing. He had looked everywhere, he thought. Of course, when you've lost something, you've looked everywhere but where it is.

He came in and asked me if I had any idea where it might be and would I be willing to come and help him look for it. Well, the way Lars files things is, shall we say, different from the way I file mine. So I didn't really think that I could be much help if I came in and tried to find the thing with him, so I suggested that maybe we should pray about it first. So we paused on the way to the attic where the rest of the papers were, and we prayed that the Lord would help us to find it.

We went into the attic. We pulled out the first box. We opened the box and it was the first paper on the top. We said, "Thank You, Lord."

Now a cynic who might be listening to me is saying, "Yes, but it was there all the time. It wouldn't have made any difference whether you prayed or not." Wouldn't it? I think that there are things done here in the earth that would not be done unless they were prayed about. God has so arranged the universe that our choices and our actions make a difference. In the mystery of His sovereignty, God knew exactly where that paper was and He knew that Lars was not going to look for that in that particular place. He had looked everywhere else. But when we prayed, it was that box that the Lord brought to mind.

When you face what can't be solved immediately, you don't know how you're going to get through the next day or the week. Try thanking God in advance for His help. He is our Helper, our Refuge, our Deliverer. It doesn't say that He will be only; it says He is. So why can't you just thank Him right now?

My natural tendency is to feel apprehensive if things aren't all clearly spelled out in advance. Last March, Lars and I made a trip to Scotland, where I had been invited to speak. As I look ahead to a long trip like that, I knew that the schedule was not as clearly marked out as I would like it to be. I didn't know which planes we would be taking and who would be driving us where and what the setting of the meetings was going to be. There were phone calls to make and people to see and interviews. It all looked very complicated. Thinking about it made me tired and made me really sort of dread the trip.

Then I remembered the verse, "When He putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before." That reminded me to thank the Lord in advance, because God was already making the arrangements. He already knew exactly what He was going to do and how He was going to help us. So rather than dreading the thing and concentrating on all the things that I didn't like about it, I could thank the Lord in advance that the unknown things were being taken care of, that the unforeseen circumstances were foreseen in the sovereign mind of God.

When we came back from that, again I'm tempted, as I'm coming home in the plane, to dread the pile of work that will have accumulated in my absence. But then I remembered the verse in Isaiah 50:7: "The Lord God will help me. Therefore, shall I not be confounded; therefore, have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed." I said, "Thank You, Lord. Thank You. You have promised to help me. My trust in You is the ground for my thanksgiving. You have set my feet on a rock and established my goings, and so I will praise You. I will thank You. I will banish the worries, have no anxiety about anything, and in everything make my requests known to God, with thanksgiving."

Lisa Barry: And I'm sure you'll notice a difference if you approach each day with that kind of attitude. But what about when this bit of influence wears off? Then what? Well, the funny thing about ungratefulness is that it's cumulative. With each day that passes, if we don't rid ourselves of the negative thoughts, they become a bigger and more powerful force in our lives.

That's why I'd recommend Elisabeth's book, KEEP A QUIET HEART. This book is a collection of short readings that can coincide with your devotions each day. It will help you keep a short leash on your attitudes by reminding you of all God is doing in your life and around the world. The cost of the book is $14, which includes shipping and handling charges. Just as a reminder, our offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. So if you want to place an order, then doing it now will help you avoid delay.

Here's our address: Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.

Tomorrow Elisabeth asks this question: Are you a complainer or a thanker? What do you think? Find out more next time on Gateway To Joy.

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