Do you remember the hymn “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground”? It’s been a long time since I sang this. I recall that this song was a firm favourite at Harvest Festival services. The days have come and gone so fast, I didn’t even realise this annual church event (which provides a prime opportunity for thanksgiving) had already passed.
Towards the end of this month, US citizens will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. And another occasion, which provides us with good reason to be thankful, is Remembrance Day, or Veterans’ Day (depending on whether you live in the UK or the USA). After all, if it were not for these war heroes, war veterans and serving officers of the armed forces, perhaps we who currently enjoy the privilege of “free speech” and live in a democratic society, would be suffering like other unfortunate nationals who live in countries oppressed by communist rule, or unscrupulous dictators.
I find I cannot help but continue to reflect on the subject of gratitude and appreciation to God. As we saw in my previous post (Be Thankful!), the writer in Psalm 107 bemoans the fact we humans tend to forget, or choose not to be thankful to God. And so may I ask you – on average how thankful to God are you most of the time – 80%? 75%? Less than 50%? Now another question – how often do you express your gratitude?
If I spent time, effort and money on a gift for someone and they simply took it, said their thanks within their hearts but did not verbally express this to me, how would I know they appreciated it?
Now I know God is omniscient and knows us even better than we know ourselves. I realise he can read our thoughts anyway (Psalm 139:1-4). But this does not excuse a habitual failure to express gratitude and appreciation to him. As we also saw in my last post, God expects us to remember his goodness towards us and express appreciation for his provision and protection.
So again, I ask (my apologies if I seem to be labouring the point), how thankful are you and how often do you verbally express that gratitude to God?
I don’t mean the careless, formulaic, superficial, said-out-of-duty or politeness type of thanks. And I am not referring to the auto-pilot response made to a praise and worship prompt in a church setting.
I’m talking about genuine, deep-hearted gratitude. The type that stems from a sense of wonder and questions what you have done to deserve such blessings and favour. The type that makes you marvel at God’s goodness towards you and feel doubly grateful that he is – despite your failings and unfaithfulness (Psalm 8:3-4). The type that brings tears to your eyes, as you remember God’s goodness at a time you least deserved it. The type of thanks that causes your voice to break as you recall what he has done for you, particularly those miraculous answers to prayers, which you had no idea how they could possibly be answered when you sent them winging towards his heavenly throne. I’m referring to the heartfelt expression that forms a lump in your throat, as you attempt to voice your appreciation to Father God for His mercies and unconditional love.
Do you need convincing about the benefits and impact of maintaining a thankful attitude – not only to yourself but also to the lives of others?
Let’s turn to Genesis 6:5-8; Genesis 8:15-22; Genesis 9:8-17.
When Noah leaves the ark after the flood, the first thing he did was to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. It so pleased God that he made a covenant to never again destroy every living thing, even though he was aware that men’s hearts will continually incline towards evil. The rainbow was God’s physical reminder of the covenant promise he made to Noah in response to this man’s expression of gratitude.
Now when you consider God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, when you consider that the antediluvian world was utterly destroyed and when you consider the darkness and depravity of our own world today – if it had not been for Noah’s act of appreciation, how many more times would the wrath of God have been incurred? How many more times would both man and beast have been annihilated from the face of the earth? A sobering thought.
Does it not make you thankful?