“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” – Psalm 100:4-5
My thoughts have been on thanksgiving lately. I have not been thankful enough. And even when I’ve felt thankful, I’ve only recently come to see that there is a whole level to thankfulness that I’ve been missing. Let’s look at some lessons from God’s holy word.
In Numbers 11, the children of Israel had been led out of Egyptian captivity by the mighty hand of God, and he was sustaining them and providing them with manna to eat. Yet rather than being thankful, they began to want more. Numbers 11:4 says they “fell a lusting”. In verses 5-6, they said, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick; But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.”
Brothers and sisters, sometimes there are things in this life that appear to be better for us than what we currently have. Yet what we think is best for us isn’t always what is truly best for us. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
We must also remember an important truth that is contrary to our selfish nature: Our life on this earth should not be centered around concerning ourselves with what’s better for us. We do not find such a concept in the scriptures. What we do find is that our lives are supposed to be about bringing glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And if the path on which he has directed us brings more glory to him as a result of our enduring hardships, how dare we complain!
“…but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps,” – I Peter 2:20-21
The Apostle Peter tells us here that it is acceptable with God if we suffer for doing well, for we were called to do that, because we are following in Christ’s steps. If we do good yet experience suffering as we live on this earth we are in good company, because Jesus did no wrong yet he was crucified.
Peter goes on to tell us in Verse 14 of Chapter 3, that “if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye“. In other words, we should be thankful even if we encounter hardships when we do what is right. How contrary such concepts are to the philosophies we hear in our world today! But Christianity has always been in opposition to this world’s philosophies. In Acts 17, the disciples were said to “have turned the world upside down”. The truth be told, this world has been upside down since the fall in the garden of Eden. The preaching of the gospel by the disciples in Acts 17 was turning some of the world right side up, but the gospel has always appeared upside down to those “which believed not” (Acts 17:5).
As we continue to look at the concept of thankfulness by reading in Numbers 11, Verse 10 tells us that “the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses was also displeased.” In Verse 20, God tells them, “ye have despised the LORD which is among you…” Together with the scriptures referenced earlier from Numbers 11, these words bring to light a sobering truth: To be ungrateful to God for his blessings or to question him because we don’t have what we desire in our hearts is to despise him. I remember a dear brother preaching on God’s sovereignty once, and he uttered the statement, “The audacity of a man to question God!” Amen!
The Apostle Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 6:8, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” A preacher said once, “That means ‘bread and britches’.” But how many of us are satisfied, as we ought to be, with simply having food and clothing? Brothers and sisters, to be otherwise is to despise God.
Most of us have dreams…goals…ambitions. There is nothing wrong with doing so. In Titus 3:12, we read where Paul made plans for the winter: “When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.” Yet while we make plans and set goals, we should not let our happiness hinge on the outcome of such plans. Proverbs 27:1 tells us, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Though he was given divine revelation, Paul didn’t always know what a day would bring forth. We read where he experienced shipwreck during some of his travels, yet he is the same man who wrote in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Are we content with food and clothing? Are we thankful for the smallest things in life, even the suffering we sometimes endure for righteousness’ sake? I fail daily at having this attitude as I ought. But as we reflect on thankfulness, how appropriate to also remember that we can be thankful we serve a merciful, longsuffering Heavenly Father who loves us even when we fail! But let us seek to please him by conforming our attitudes more to what is taught to us in his holy word.
All praise be “to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,” – Revelation 7:10. God bless you all!