For twenty-two years, I have listened to my dad end his prayers with the phrase, “And we’ll thank You for it, amen.” After respectfully bringing his requests to the Lord, he always closed with that phrase. Whether his familiar voice settled around the family dining table or floated to my back-row seat in the church auditorium, I marveled at his sincere and firm faith to thank God for His answer even before he received it.
During my junior year of college, I struggled with my own faith in God. That year I was given challenges and trials that seemed heavier than I could carry. I felt like I would just be beginning to stand from the battering of one trial, when another one would smack me back down, and I didn’t understand why.
Well-meaning friends would tell me, “Just have faith in God.” But that didn’t comfort me. In fact, it made me mad. I didn’t know what that phrase meant. I didn’t understand what this abstract faith was, and I didn’t know how to pray for it.
One night, I sat in a cold, echoing stairwell, talking to my mom on the phone. She quoted Scripture and gently tried to guide me back to the truth. Through hiccupping sobs, I said, “I don’t know if I believe that God is even real anymore.” I spent countless hours in that stairwell, debating if He cared or even existed. I fought scrappy, ugly battles with this idea of faith, and I never seemed to win.
As I struggled that semester, I read through the gospels several times, searching for an answer. I was angry at God for the things He kept throwing my way. I didn’t read the Bible with a tender heart, searching for comfort; I read them with an expectant attitude, demanding that Jesus explain Himself.
But because God is loving and far more patient with me than I deserve, He didn’t give up on me. One night, as I read my Bible by flashlight, I came across a passage about a desperate, frantic man, and I saw myself in him.
Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:23-24 (CSB)
When I read this hurting man’s cry, something resonated deep inside me. I realized that his cry echoed what I had been crying all along. I knew who God was, and I didn’t want to forget the belief that I had based my life on, but my faith was flimsy and fragile.
In the following verses, Jesus answers the man’s desperate prayer, proving that for Jesus to answer me, I didn’t have to have a lot of this faith that I didn’t understand but just an understanding that it existed.
These verses were my lifeline through the rest of the semester, and I clung to them desperately. When trials would press down on me, and I was tempted to feel bitter, I whispered those verses. I was still spiritually in deep waters, but I had something keeping me afloat that helped me finish the semester.
Once I was finally home, I heard my dad pray again at our dining room table. He named his requests, and he ended his prayer just like he always did:
“And we’ll thank You for it, amen.”
My heartbeat slowed, as I realized that was it. That was all of it. I couldn’t believe how simple it was. Faith was bringing my requests before God with the complete confidence that I would be thanking Him for His answer, no matter what it might be.
My dad trusted that God heard him, that God saw him, that God was already working on an answer. He trusted Him so much that he was already planning his prayer of thanks.
This realization gave my heart rest that it had never known. There was so much peace going from a stance of defiance and closed fists to one of surrender and open hands.
As I transfer from college into the “real world,” I still struggle with the trials and changes that God sends my way. But instead of getting furious at God and demanding that He change my circumstances, I am learning to bring my requests to God and leave them there. I am learning that faith is a surrendered heart — a heart that prays and thanks God while waiting for His answer.