Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. Philippians 1:1-7

As long as I lived at home with mom and dad, I remember mom standing in the door, waving as I left. When I asked her why she waved, her answer was “While I’m waving, I’m praying for you.” It brought me to tears. My deep sense of gratitude for mom caused me to mimic this with my children. And it’s a habit I’ve begun for anyone leaving my home.

Paul describes his gratitude for the Philippians receiving this letter. The jailings, beatings, threats, and all the other harsh realities for Paul didn’t diminish his gratitude for them. His gratitude was present regardless of context, good or bad. What an example Paul is for us! Following Paul’s example of gratitude regardless of context is worth emulating (Philippians 3:17). Paul was also very thankful for God’s bringing the Philippians to mind. As an aside, what a wonderful practice to bring those who cross your mind to the Lord in prayer. This can be an uplifting spiritual exercise for you as well the potential for meeting some need of those who cross your mind.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a young man. My memories contain many old hymns. To this day, I remember their words as they’re deeply etched in my heart. Rarely does singing them not bring tears to my eyes, just as thinking of them does as I type these words. My soul-felt gratitude for my parents loving my soul enough to introduce me to Jesus is probably the reason for the response. No matter the circumstances or context, it’s uplifting and gratifying. Wherever we are in life, our sense of gratitude towards God and our fellow Christ-followers can lift us. The circumstances may not change, but God remains our stalwart, strong tower, the one we lean upon.

Perhaps a hymn that best puts words to my God-directed gratitude is ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness.’ I’ve included the lyrics below and a link to hearing the song. Take a few moments and either read the lyrics, listen to the song, or both. As you go through the hymn, my prayer for you is, regardless of your context, these words will increase your gratitude towards our Father.

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassion’s, they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Lyrics: Thomas Chisolm
Tune: William M. Runyon

By Rich Obrecht

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