Let’s face it. Life can be grueling.
Monday mornings. Stock crashes. Unpaid bills. Getting old. Mirrors which speak cruelly. Broken friendships and shattered relationships. A world spinning out of control.
When these blues come, and they surely will, they can bring us down hard.
We often can’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose our response.
We can blame God and those around us and respond in anger. We can succumb to the whispers drawing us into the darkness of despair.
Or we can find relief by reflecting on yesterday’s prayers.
I don’t know about you, but there have been so many times in my life when I’ve reached out to God in desperation. Having exhausted my own earthly efforts I’ve turned to Him.
Just like the day my oldest daughter was born. I was told this would be the most amazing day of my life. What a disappointment!
After a long and difficult labor, my daughter entered this world pale white, limp and seemingly lifeless. Rather than joyfully being placed in her mother’s arms, she was wheeled out of the room and into the intensive care unit.
For more than an hour, in complete helplessness, I held my wife’s hand as we got measured updates. We learned the umbilical cord had been wrapped around our baby’s neck at birth and she was in a critical condition.
So my wife and I did the only thing we could do. We prayed. We prayed hard.
We offered up the petitions of desperate parents. As any father would, I was willing to lay my life down for this new precious child. My career. My dreams. All of my possessions. Lord. Just keep her alive. Make her healthy.
After a week in the hospital, we brought her home. Today, my daughter is in high school and blessed with brillance and kindness.
And then there was the time when, with white knuckles, I gripped tightly on the steering wheel. In whiteout conditions and on a highway with a thin rail between us and several thousand feet of cliff, prayer was the only course of navigation. It literally was, Jesus take the wheel.
Those plane rides, when heavy turbulence brings even the seasoned traveler to their knees. Those pleas for forgiveness. Those prayers for that career opportunity, that big break, the successful pursuit of a lifetime dream.
Those intercessory prayers for loved ones, the opportunity for a second chance and the simple miracle of having a check arrive at the perfect moment.
I have lofted so many of these prayers throughout my life. Many were not answered in the way I hoped. There have been grave disappointments. But many prayers came out better than I could ever imagine.
And countless are those blessings which arrive without request. The joy in a sunrise, the greening of Spring and the miracle of each and every breath.
Yet, I find myself easily forgetting those past answered prayers and moving on to my next request. What have you done for me lately, God? Don’t you know you’re only as good as your last act of grace?
I believe this is why God encouraged Abraham to create monuments to memorialize the great blessings in his life. Because there is power in these memories of God’s favor.
They remind me my cup is not half empty. It’s not even half full. It runneth over.
Living a life of contentment and gratitude comes easier when we choose not to dwell on today’s failings, but rather on the bounty of past blessings.
For here lies the path of our intimate journey with God. It’s the story of our faith. It’s the testimony of His faithfulness.
Which is why we should never forget yesterday’s prayers.