Reflecting Thankfulness

"Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today."
Martin Rinkart

Now Thank We All Our God is a beautiful hymn often sung during a traditional Thanksgiving Day service. The lyrics of this classic remind us that in this world, there are numerous occasions to express a heart of gratitude to our Lord. Such joy should not be limited to one day of the year where, with family and friends, we recount the Lord's gracious provisions. Every day, our lives must reflect an attitude of thankfulness, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

Richard WurmbrandRev. Richard Wurmbrand learned how to remain thankful even in the most dismal of places -- a Communist prison. He endured tortures and mistreatments that should have killed him; and yet, amid such miserable conditions, this was his response:

"There's always a good reason to rejoice. There is a God in heaven and in the heart. I had a piece of bread this morning. It was so good! Look now; the sun is shining! And so many here love me! Every day you do not rejoice is a day lost!"

The Apostle Paul also learned how to be thankful despite the conditions of his existence.

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV).

A distinguishing feature of the Christian life is an attitude of thankfulness that is not influenced by outward circumstances, but rather one that resides in the recesses of the heart and offers right sacrifices -- our worship to God (Psalm 51:17).

While I was in Bangladesh earlier this year, I met "Abu," a new convert to the Christian faith. Abu had come to believe in Jesus because he witnessed Christians living out their faith, even when persecuted. These Christians refused to abandon their beliefs when things got hard; and it seemed the more they suffered, the greater their passion to serve God grew. Before his conversion, Abu had researched the core beliefs of many religions. Yet he had always admired the Christians in his town because he could see that they were the only ones living what their faith had taught them. Abu became a committed follower of Jesus.

Praying together

It wasn't too long, however, before he experienced suffering himself. A fellow villager went to the police with a bandaged hand and alleged that Abu had injured him and, as a result, Abu was falsely charged with assault causing bodily harm. When I asked him how he felt about all that was happening to him, Abu said, "I have fear in my heart, but I also know that our God can deliver me out of their hands."

We prayed for our brother, and I am happy to report that the false charges were eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence. While that was cause for celebration, I am convinced that Abu would have remained thankful to God even if the courts had upheld the charges and thrown him in jail. Abu was prepared and determined to follow the example of the Christians he had witnessed living out their faith with joy and thanksgiving, even under challenging circumstances.

My prayer is that you too would express thankfulness to God in each and every situation. I pray difficult days would not be a source of worry or despair, but instead seen as an opportunity to demonstrate the peace you have found in Christ Jesus. In closing, may you be further encouraged by the following words of Martin Rinkart's hymn:

"O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills of this world and the next."

Grace and peace,

Floyd A. Brobbel
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada