Context: Early yesterday morning, during silent contemplation, some words started to thrust themselves upon me. I tried ignoring them, hoping they would drift away. However, they became more and more insistent, until eventually I had to write them down.
Their source was a story told during a zoom session I had attended a few days earlier. The meeting was part of a two-year process of spiritual formation and discernment which I recently joined. The speaker described her dear friend’s practice of responding immediately to events she saw as negative by saying, “Thank you, Jesus.”
This approach to life’s many trials and sorrows certainly beats other reactions, such as impatience, anger, swearing, stress, blaming others and self-pity. Accordingly, I have now started using this practice myself.
Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).
So, as soon as anything happens which I feel to be “negative”, I respond to it immediately by saying, “Thank you, Jesus”. With practice, this approach rapidly starts to become habitual. It’s remarkable how quickly it defuses my negative reactions, turning my mind straight back to God, and getting events into perspective.
A good example of this happened yesterday when I wanted to print a single copy of a prayer from my iPad. The printer is in another room, so I couldn’t see what was happening. After a short time I became aware of a characteristic sound: paper crashing to the floor every few seconds. I hurried to the printer, which was churning out page after page.
My old reaction of instantaneous irritation rose up for a split-second, but then I remembered my new practice, said, “Thank you, Jesus”, spontaneously beginning to laugh as I picked up the paper. All the sting of the event had been removed by those three little words. Then I cut the pages in half and stapled them together to make a little notebook, bringing good from bad.
Opportunities for practicing
Here are a few general examples of opportunities to introduce this practice, but I’m sure you can quickly think of many more:
Trivial irritations and frustrations
Minor misunderstandings and disappointments
Spilling, dropping, or breaking something
Making a mistake, getting something wrong
Accidents and falls
Events not working out as I had hoped
Someone hurts me
Failing at something
Delays, postponements and cancellations
Sickness, pain and disability
Undergoing medical treatment
Receiving bad news
Losing the capacity to do something I used to manage, or enjoy
Losing someone I love, or someone I rely on
Feeling depressed, anxious, afraid, or panic-stricken
Three precious words
To these, and more, as they occur, I will now respond as quickly as possible with those three, precious, deceptively simple words: “Thank you, Jesus”. What a difference they make! Why not try it for yourself?
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 7:25; CSB).
The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB).
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD (Psalm 116:17; NIV).
Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).
I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).
Patient endurance is what you need now (Hebrews 10:36; NLT).
Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).
The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).
I’ve run out of cord, but more is on order, so will hopefully arrive soon. Meanwhile, today I put all my kit into an organiser box, rather than having it loosely mixed up together in a tray: