“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.” Ps. 118:29
“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Ps. 7:17
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2
Honoring God with Thanks
Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15
The doctor wasn’t frowning, despite talking to my husband about his recent cancer diagnosis. Smiling, she offered a suggestion: start each day by giving thanks. “For at least three things,” the doctor said. Dan agreed, knowing that gratitude opens our hearts to find encouragement in God’s goodness. Thus, Dan starts each day with words of praise. Thank You, God, for a good night’s sleep. For my clean bed. For sunshine. For breakfast on the table. For a smile on my lips.
Each word is heartfelt. But could it sound trivial? Does our praise in life’s small details matter to Almighty God? In Psalm 50, David’s chief musician, Asaph, offers a clear answer. God has “no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens” (v. 9). Instead of these once-formal Israelite sacrifices of gratitude, God wants His people to give Him our hearts and lives in gratitude (vv. 14, 23).
As my husband experienced, whole-hearted gratitude helps our spirits flourish. Then when we call on the Lord “in the day of trouble,” He will “deliver” us (v. 15). Does this mean Dan will be healed, spiritually and physically, during his two-year treatment? Or not until after this lifetime? We don’t know. But for now, Dan delights in showing God he’s grateful for His love, and for who God is: Redeemer. Healer. Friend. And friends delight to hear these beautiful words: Thank You.My gratitude to God is great to Him.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15
In the years leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia, I remember praying for Russian Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. The political situation in that land seemed grim, and quite honestly I wasn’t really expecting to see God answer our prayers for freedom in that land. But in 1989 the unthinkable happened—the curtain collapsed, ushering in a new era of freedom for the people who had been under the iron fist of that communist government. The world rejoiced at the news, and I was especially thrilled that our fellow believers in that land could now freely express their faith in Christ.
Soon after that happened, three leaders of the Russian church came to visit the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. As president of Moody at the time, I was privileged to give them a tour. While we walked, I asked them what events had led to the cessation of oppression and persecution against the church. They explained that their economy had been failing because alcoholism was rampant. People who didn’t believe in God had no purpose, and absenteeism from work—largely due to alcoholism—was wreaking havoc with the economy. They said that once when Gorbachev, who was then the Prime Minister, met with his cabinet, he asked, “Why is it that we persecute the Christians? They are the ones who are not alcoholics. They show up for work every day and give us a good day’s work. Why is it that we persecute people like this whom we desperately need?”
It’s a great example of the power of a life well-lived. When non-Christians in this “crooked and depraved generation” notice that we are different, it gives us an opportunity to make a difference for Christ. I wonder if the people where you work would agree with Gorbachev’s observation? Or would they say, “Those Christians—they are always the ones who are griping, murmuring, arriving late, and leaving early?” Even in environments where we may feel challenged or unappreciated, we are called to bear witness to the reality of God in our lives by being “pure and blameless.” It’s often true that the more difficult the environment, the more challenging it is to show the uniqueness of God’s character through our actions and attitudes. Yet it is in those dark times that the light of Jesus in us and through us can shine most brightly.
When we maintain the witness of a life well-lived even in the face of hardship, we have the power to make a difference in our home, workplace, and significant relationships.
Live in such a way that your boss will be prompted to say, “I don’t always get it about Christians but one thing is true—our business is a lot better place because they work here!” And then maybe, just maybe, your boss will be open for you to help him “get it” about Christians—all the way to Jesus. Now that would really make a difference!
From: Through The Bible Devotions
Isaiah 40:25-27 (NIV) 25“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
What will you compare God to? What or who has always been? Who is unchanging throughout eternity? How ridiculous to think we could make some image of our infinite Creator! How arrogant to think that we could give Him advice or suggest a better way than that which He has chosen!
Look at the stars on a clear night sky. You know you can only see a small fraction of them, and yet, God has each one set just where he would place it. It is there at His command and exists for His purposes. Each one has a name given it by its Creator, just as He intimately knows each of the billions of people on earth. None can hide or go unnoticed. We have a hard time remembering all the names of our few friends. When you contemplate God, do not compare Him with finite and error prone men.
Considering His greatness, considering His omniscience, dare we complain that God is not acting on our behalf? Do we think that somehow our case slipped by Him? Do we really believe He isn’t concerned? He knows every detail. He knows a million details about your situation that you are not aware of. Trust Him. He will one day help you see why things happened as they did. The one who places their trust in God will never be disappointed. He is the Holy One. He makes no mistakes.
Meditation: The Eternal One knows what I need and can bring into my life anything He deems necessary.