Friday, April 13, 2012

Thanking God

Growing up, “Giving thanks” was normally associated with a meal blessing. I appreciated food, but it never dawned on me how thankful I should be. Young children don’t usually pay attention to newscasts about famines and starving people. I was no different. Mom cooked, and it was more than enough.

Nor do I recall thanks making it into my prayers very often. These I associated with asking. Like any young boy, I had a list of wants and confused them with needs: new bicycle, money, records, shotgun for hunting, fishing poles, etc.

Thankfulness is an essential part of worshipping God. The early Pilgrims of America were grateful for Squanto’s help and showed it by inviting their Indian neighbors to a harvest feast. The psalmist found reason to thank God through reflecting on how he protected his people through their wilderness travels following exile in Egypt and Babylon.

The psalmist invites us to thank God because He is good. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1) God’s goodness isn’t determined by the nature of circumstances. What we label “bad” is not necessarily viewed as such by God.

Many restrictions placed on me by my parents I labeled bad, but they didn’t. They knew the desired result. What I considered awful was actually for my good. God functions identically. He doesn’t initiate or allow anything into our life that isn’t good or can’t be used for our good.

Our reasons to thank God are innumerable. Among them is his goodness, his enduring love and his redemptive power. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ completely satisfies our thirst and alleviates spiritual hunger pains. The greatest exodus is deliverance from sin’s slavery and is accomplished by accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness.

Responses to life events lead to bitterness or thankfulness. Though God disciplines disobedience, he restores the repentant and rewards obedience. God’s power can transform bad times into blessings and set us on pathways of fruitfulness. Even his discipline is an expression of his goodness and reason to thank him.

Prayer: Lord, lead us to thank You in all and for all circumstances.