Sometimes it is easier to organize our thoughts and prayers when we pray for an event that is set in time. It is a well-defined end point. After the completion of the event, we should express our gratitude to God and thank Him for answering our prayers, regardless of the outcome. There is a deadline for this set of prayers. Is there also a deadline for expressing our gratitude to God?
Of course, the quick answer is there is never a deadline. We can and should always give thanks to God for everything He does in our lives. However, the more we reflect upon an answered prayer from God, the more we should be humbled and in awe for what He has done for us. The meaning of the gratitude may change over time but the sentiment is the same.
At the beginning of my senior year in college, I was readying to interview at about a dozen medical schools. But during the week before I was about to depart, I received a letter informing me that I had received an early acceptance at the University of Hawaii Medical School. Of course, I was elated but I wanted to know if I could get accepted to other schools. It was my father who helped me make the decision. “Son,“ he began, “I know you will probably get into many other medical schools. I have never told you where to go and what to do when it came to your education but I am asking you now. Please come home.”
After prayer and meditation upon the request, I obliged and returned home to Hawaii for medical school. During this time in Hawaii, several important events happened. My maternal grandfather passed away. I spent many hours getting to know my paternal grandmother before Alzheimer’s took its toll on her. And most importantly, my mother recommitted her life to Jesus Christ and we both attended the same church fellowship. It was an important period of growth for me and I was grateful for an opportunity that I may have never had, if I had attended another medical school. Years later, I witnessed my mother’s faith in Jesus grow stronger as she bravely faced her cancer that slowly robbed her of her life. And I was grateful, once again, that her faith had continued to progress. And in the present, I am grateful for her legacy of faith that she has imparted to me so that I can help guide my family as they walk their own journey with Jesus.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
The gratitude is always there, no deadline. But the meaning of the gratitude has changed. God uses His blessings in our life to bring new meaning and understanding as we grow and mature by His grace. Presently, we see and know only part of His purpose in our lives but someday, in His presence in Heaven, we will understand God’s complete plan that He ordained for our lives. And in Heaven, there is no deadline for gratitude. We will spend eternity offering God our gratitude for what He has done for us, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.