Summary: Our gracious God gives us every reason to be thankful
WE HAVE ALL THE MORE REASON TO GIVE THANKS!
Thanksgiving today is often a mild-mannered holiday full of football, hot apple pie, and family reunions. Those things are nice, but they don’t really paint an accurate picture of thankfulness. Thanksgiving is more often born of adversity and difficult times. Many of the greatest expressions of thankfulness have occurred under circumstances so devastating that we might wonder how people could even give thanks. It would seem more reasonable to respond with bitterness and ingratitude.
A particular hymn comes to mind. Martin Reinkardht wrote it in 1607. The name of the hymn is "Now Thank We All Our God." In the year that Rinkardht wrote that hymn it’s important to note that over 6000 people in his German village, including his wife and his children, died of the Bubonic plague. Yet, in the midst of that catastrophic loss Reinkardht set down to pen this great hymn of praise: “Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices.” The Christian faith affirms that in the midst of everything--in death, in loss, in hardship--we can turn to God in praise.
Out of great suffering have come the greatest expressions of gratitude. And so I suggest to you this morning that in the wake of the terrorist attacks, the afghan war, the anthrax attacks, and the economic slump WE HAVE ALL THE MORE REASON TO GIVE THANKS! 1) We Have a Mighty God, and 2) His Love Endures Forever.
1) We Have a Mighty God
Reading through this psalm we find an accurate picture of adversity. This psalmist certainly wasn’t a stranger to adversity. In fact, adversity and trouble plagued him much of his life. The psalm says, “In my anguish, I called out to the LORD.” This fellow knew hardships.
I’m sure we can all relate to this writer up to a point. We know what it’s like to call out to God in anguish. But this writer learned he had all the more reason to give thanks to God, especially in time of hardship. I believe we often fail to understand that. We think that when things are going fine, then, that’s the only time to give God thanks. What happens then is that we’re often tempted to just give thanks for the things we think are important. We give thanks for our jobs when we get a raise. We give thanks for our families when they don’t cause troubles. We give thanks for our stock portfolios when the economy is up. We give thanks for our homes when they’re full of nice stuff.
What about those other times; the times when things don’t go so great? You find out your father is diagnosed with cancer, and so, you cry out! Your husband comes home and tells you that he just lost his job. And you cry out! You hear about your neighbor whose wife had another miscarriage. You cry out! The phone rings, “your grandma just passed away” or “ your niece just broke her arm.” In anguish, you go to God and pour your heart out. You throw yourself at him. You tell him how much it hurts. And it does. The hurt is real as you try to catch your breath because you’ve been crying so hard. The hurt is all too real as you see the pain in your loved ones’ eyes.
And so we wonder why there could even be a holiday called Thanksgiving. So many people don’t seem to have a reason to give thanks. And yet, did you notice how this psalmist begins? He pens those familiar words; words we often use when we sit down at our dinner tables: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” He learned he had all the more reason to give thanks to God, especially in time of hardship. Again and again, he states this with confidence. “The LORD is with me … the LORD is with me!” he declares. He talks about how the LORD is his refuge and his source of strength. Finally, he sums it all up by saying that the Lord’s mighty hand is the reason for his deliverance.
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things. The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” What could this writer possibly have had in mind as he considered all the misery that surrounded him? He obviously focused on the purer, greater blessings which come from God’s hand; blessings that prove he is mighty. Instead of just focusing on that paycheck, think about the value of our health. A healthy body is proof of God’s might. He is ultimately responsible for it. How about the sun? What is all the money and wealth of the world in comparison to one sunny day? What about our friends? We might be able to find a way to have a faster modem for our e-mail, but God makes it possible for us to have people to e-mail in the first place. The LORD is mighty. He makes it possible for us to have a Thanksgiving holiday with all the trimmings. His blessings abound.