I’ve been tired a lot lately. After an illness last year that involved a couple of surgeries, I’m feeling stronger, but nowhere close to being able to work full-time again. For weeks, my number one prayer request was for more energy.
Then about a month ago a guest speaker at our church preached on praise. As our small group shared how God had spoken to us through the sermon, I was reminded of a truth God had taught me long ago, but that I had lost track of: that I am to praise God even for the hard stuff. I realized that my constant prayer requests for more energy were bordering on complaining.
Years ago when I was struggling physically, I shared with my pastor, “I’m painting a room, but I can only work for 30 minutes then I have to lie down for 30 minutes. Then I work for 30 more and lie down for 30 more.” He smiled and gently said, “You can get a lot of work done that way.” I was full of self-pity, looking for sympathy. My pastor, though, invited me to refocus—to look not at what I couldn’t do but at what I could.
Psalm 23 begins, “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need” (LB). How easily I forget that! When I’m sick or tired, how quickly I focus on what I want that I don’t have rather than on what God is providing.
Since hearing that sermon on praise, I haven’t quit praying about energy, but I’ve changed how I pray. Instead of asking for more energy, when my wife and I pray at bedtime, I now say, “God, thank you for giving me the energy to do everything I needed to do today.” Occasionally I’ll add a P.S.: “And here are some other things I’d like to do. If they would bring you glory, I ask you to give me the energy to do them too.”
Of course, God invites us to tell him our needs (Phil. 4:6). And I think he also likes to hear about our wants as well. But I sense a big difference in me when I come to God in a spirit of praise and thanksgiving rather than one of complaining and self-pity.
I could say that I’m learning to look at the cup being half full rather than half empty, but that’s not quite right. Rather, I’m learning that even when I’m sick or tired, I still have everything I need. Even better, as David says later in the same psalm, my cup isn’t just half full, or even full; it’s overflowing.*
- How would it change how you feel about your frustrations if you deeply believed that “because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need”? (Ps. 23:1).
- Are you ready to start thanking God daily for giving you everything you need for the day?