If we were going shopping for a Sovereign God, isn’t this the one we ought to come home with, the One who commands us like this:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV)
Yes, it’s true that we do sometimes shop around for a different model, but this, with the Royal Law of Love (James 2:8,) is the way things should be, and will be, when we live under the protection of an Almighty God in a fallen world.
It is almost without doubt that you know someone who asks, “If God is almighty, why is the world fallen in the first place? Why did He set it up like that?” This matter of thanksgiving helps to answer that question: where is the gratitude when no liberty of life or love has ever been known or granted? Where is thankfulness when there is nothing to either lift or humble the heart, where all is given, programmed, provided, and no lack is ever at all possible. Neither is any necessity for struggle, any possibility of failure, any sweetness of determination or success ever tasted.
The nursing infant knows hunger and satisfaction, but he doesn’t know that he knows them, and he isn’t grateful.
I have a friend who, in every difficulty and on every stormy sea, can be counted upon to remind me, “This is a GOOD thing!” At first I found it charming, occasionally nearly annoying, always good-humored, and now … I have discovered that she’s right. God is good; He does good; there is good to be discovered in and through every particle of life, but we know and see and appreciate it because life isn’t static. Without God’s goodness there is only badness. That leaves room for hearts brimming over with gratitude.
Remember Joseph in Eqypt … “What you meant for evil, God meant to me for good.” He wasn’t making that up when he spoke it to the brothers who had sold him into slavery. He knew his God. His hardship, his prison servitude, betrayal, rejection, separation from his father’s love … all worked out for good, even to the saving of an entire nation … two of them! If we know our God, we know that He is working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Joseph, sitting in prison, certainly was numbered among those, but many are called, few are chosen.
By the mercies of Christ, may we give thanks today as if our lives depended upon it! Nothing that we see will remain un-surrendered to the goodness God has determined for us and for those we love, if we will not surrender our gratitude and hope.
“Jacob is Shown Joseph’s Coat”
Domenico Fiammella, c. 1640
public domain, Wikipedia