- Rev. Andy Humm
Give Thanks In All Circumstances
What are you thankful for today? The last few weeks have given our Vicar, Andy, time to reflect and give thanks...
Thankfulness is a prominent Bible theme. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, 'Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.'
Did you notice that? Give thanks in all circumstances.
Thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and mouths.
Digging into the Scriptures a little more deeply, we understand why we should be thankful and also how to have gratitude in different circumstances.
Psalm 136:1 says, 'Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.' Here we have two reasons to be thankful: God’s constant goodness and His steadfast love.
Psalm 30. David writes, 'I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. . . . You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.' (Psalm 30:1-12). Here David gives thanks to God following an obviously difficult circumstance. This psalm of thanksgiving not only praises God in the moment but remembers God’s past faithfulness. It is a statement of God’s character, which is so wonderful, that praise is the only appropriate response.
This last couple of weeks have been interesting in our house. All three of us have had bad colds and then I tested positive for Covid-19, which meant we had to do things differently.
I am thankful to my wife Sarah who, despite being unwell herself, navigated my self-isolation with humour, faithfulness, love and lots of patience!
God has taught me a number of things over the last couple of weeks. For instance, daytime TV has some really good stuff and there were also some shows which definitely made me reach for the off switch, but more importantly…
The daily habit of being in the scriptures, I have been thankful for the ‘Lectio 365’ app which has been uplifting, inspirational and sometimes felt like it knew how I was feeling.
But also an overwhelming sense of thankfulness - I have felt the sustaining prayer of the church. Thankful for colleagues and friends who prayed, I was aware of their prayers and love. Thankful and grateful that the weekly Church gathering can happen without me and the staff team functions even when I am not around…
I am thankful for other clergy colleagues and their willingness to help.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, as there are examples of believers’ thankfulness in the New Testament. Paul was heavily persecuted, yet he wrote, 'Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.' (2 Corinthians 2:14). The writer of Hebrews says, 'Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.' (Hebrews 12:28). Peter gives a reason to be thankful for 'grief and all kinds of trials,' saying that, through the hardships, our faith 'may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.' (1 Peter 1:6-7).
When we are thankful, our focus moves off selfish desires and off the pain of current circumstances. Expressing gratitude or thankfulness helps us remember that God is in control. Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate; it is actually healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). Truly, we have an abundant life (John 10:10), and gratefulness is fitting.
Of course we all face difficult times and I was not smiling or grateful the whole of the time in isolation, but it is a choice (sometimes through gritted teeth).
What are you thankful for today, or at this time? What ever it is praise God and give him the glory.
I look forward to seeing many of you soon in person and glorifying God together.
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