Say "Please" and "Thank You": Understanding God's Character
King David prays a prayer of thanks in 1 Chronicles 16. Two lines here jump out at me:
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:11, 34 NIV
You can distill the majesty, glory and mystery of God to two basic core elements:
God is strong.
God is good.
Almost every world religion shares the first premise: that their particular deity is truly Almighty. The god in question can create the earth, shape human life, control creation, direct events and impose some form of judgment, either now or later. Everybody wants a god that is strong, so that we we get stuck we can reach out and ask for help when we feel powerless.
David says we have this in the God of the Bible. He says, "When you're in trouble, look to God and his strength, not your own. Your talents, your wisdom and your resources are all gifts from God, but they are not God. We need to look to Him and His power always." And the more we seek his face, the more likely we are to trust him, on both the good days and the bad.
But the attribute that distinguishes the God of the Bible from some other belief systems is his goodness: his enduring and unflinching love. In the Roman system of worship, the gods were capricious, random and unpredictable. They weren't above selfishness, lust, rage and manipulation. So you needed to worship multiple beings and know when and how to play them off of each other.
David's God is good. He is worthy of gratitude every day, simply because he is kind, even if we don't always have eyes to see it.
If you're not sure how to connect with God, start your conversation with these two elements: "Please" and "Thank You."
"God, please be strong for me today. I have zero control over my own life: both my circumstances and the choice of others. I can't influence most dimensions of my physical, emotional, relational and even financial realities. Will you please be my strength? Will you intervene in the situations I can't? I need your help to rest in your peace and wisdom today."
"And thanks! Thanks for food and health and family and mercy. For all that isn't great in my life, there is much I have to be grateful for. When I'm tempted towards despair and anxiety, keep drawing me back to your goodness. There's nothing that can hinder your love for me."