Beyond Thanksgiving

Army field worship service

Read:  Job chapter 1.

Tomorrow millions of Americans will gather with friends and family to give thanks for the blessings of the past year. Thanks will be voiced for many things—family, friends, gifts, wealth, and acts of kindness by others just to name a few.

Sometimes personal adversity makes it is hard to give thanks though.  Death, job loss, divorce, failing health and many other adverse circumstances can rob us of joy.   Yet we always have the assurance of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Even when our personal lives become chaotic, we have the assurance that God remains in control.  According to St. Paul, we suffer, “…that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  (2 Corinthians 1:9, NIV).

Regarding the promise of Romans 8:28, John Piper has observed, “So the rugged hope of the believer is not that we will escape distress or peril or hunger or slaughter, but that Almighty God will make every one of our agonies an instrument of his mercy to do us good. ‘You meant it for evil,’ Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery, ‘but God meant it for good.’  (Genesis 50:18-20) And so it is with every calamity of those who love God. God meant it for good!”

While it might be difficult to see the good in today’s circumstances, someday it will be perfectly clear. During our lives we have an imperfect understanding of divine things. But as 1Corinthians 13:12 promises,For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Even when our personal circumstances are tough we should always give thanks to God for the cross—that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  Jesus became sin for us and in our stead suffered the punishment we all deserve.

Beyond mere thanksgiving though, God is worthy of our worship.  Worship is an act of awe and reverence done in recognition of God for whom and what He is, not what he has done.  We can follow the example of Job, who remained blameless before God even as his personal world was caving in around him:

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” —Job 1:18-21 (NIV)

King David provided another example for us to follow. When his infant son grew ill, he fasted and prayed to God throughout the night to spare the child.  But, when he learned that the child has died, rather than having an emotional breakdown, David arose, bathed himself, put on clean clothes and then went to the Lord’s house to worship.   (2 Samuel 12:15-20).

In John 16:33 (NIV), Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   In John 17, Jesus’ prayer reminds us that his followers are not of this world, even as He is not of this world.  We will all suffer at times during our lives, but we need look no farther than the cross to find peace amid life’s tribulations.

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”― Corrie ten Boom


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