Series: Thankfulness, by Rosie Moore.

A former congregant of our Church, who is struggling with a brain tumour, has written a wonderful little book titled “Have you heard of Eternity?” After considering how God has revealed himself in the tiny details of the human body and the world of nature, Marius Le Roux writes:

“Evolution postulates that life on earth arose from non-life, that is, from the inorganic, mineral compounds and substances of the earth…

But there is another worldview…based on the reality of a living, personal God who created all that there is, including the human race. This is the God of spotless purity and holiness. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne. This is the covenantal God who entered the human domain to reconcile himself with a failed humanity….It is the God who promises us a future, stretching into eternity”.

Despite his own personal suffering, every page of this book is saturated with the author’s thankfulness and wonder at the “everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…who gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isa 40:28-29). I would highly recommend that you download this little book “Have you heard of Eternity?” as an ebook or order a hard copy from Marius. It will remind you to acknowledge the Source.

Who do you thank?

GK Chesterton said, “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful but has no one to thank.”

Who do you thank when your immune system is gathering its troops and beating off the coronavirus?  Who do you thank when you look at your loved ones and feel utterly blessed? Who do you thank for a beautiful sunset, or a brilliant little bird that knows exactly how to build its nest? Who do you thank for an eternal home kept safe for you in heaven? And who do you thank for the certainty of a new world and a restored body?

Do you thank your lucky stars? The Universe? The Force? Or do you thank the sovereign, eternal God, who created the universe and everything in it?

This week I’ve felt like we’re fighting a war against an enemy that changes its face every few days. I haven’t felt brave or strong at any stage. In this third wave of Covid, the hospitals are full and many loved ones are in their homes fighting for their lives. We’ve had to face the stark reality that even oxygen in our bloodstream cannot be taken for granted. As Paul reminded the Athenians, God “himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). And, as Paul rhetorically asked the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). We owe everything we have and everything we are to God.

“To whom will you compare me?”

In Isaiah 40, the prophet describes God’s power to create, his provision to sustain and his presence to help his people, Israel. No person or thing can be compared to God, but even so, he cares for each of his flock personally:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young (Isa 40:11).

Here are some of my favourite verses from Isaiah 40, which have reminded me this week not to underestimate God, nor to stop thanking Him for the many small ways that He is revealing his love to us in Jesus Christ. Even the strongest people get tired and defeated at times, but God’s power and strength never diminish. He is never too tired or too busy to listen to our cries and to help us. His strength is our source of strength. This is a great reason to give thanks.

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint (Isa 40:21-32).

The Bible speaks about a particular kind of gratitude that is directed specifically at the author and source of life and salvation—God himself. If our soul is awake to Him, we will recognise His good gifts all around us, and give thanks for them. We will never take things for granted, as though we are entitled to them. As Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth writes,

“If we take it all for granted, if we think life just shows up with this stuff already in place, if we trick ourselves into believing that everyday household items come from the grocery rather than from a gracious God, we walk right past countless reasons for worship (and, I would add, for giving thanks), without even knowing it.”

Acknowledging the Source.

The Bible says that ingratitude to God as Creator and sustainer of the universe is at the heart of sin. Refusing to give thanks or credit to God as the Source of everything, is in fact, the root of all manner of unrighteousness. It actually turns us into fools: “Although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-2229).

But sadly, the great delusion of our time is the humanistic worldview which arrogantly holds that there is nothing more than the natural order. Science is god, we are god, mother earth is god. But in reality, there’s no God, no Creator, no higher authority, and certainly no Father with whom we can have a personal relationship. This atheistic worldview suppresses the truth of God. It insists that Creation merely exists, without cause or reason. Nothing happens at the end of life. Our lives are accountable to no one and therefore count for nothing. Our lives will end and be extinguished forever. Every honest atheist must reach the same logical conclusion as Betrand Russell did, “The whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.” But this atheistic worldview is a lie.

How different is the worldview of David, who worshipped God as the Creator 3000 years ago, as he gazed up into the night skies. They are the same heavens that cover us in the 21st century:

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds….” (Ps 9:1).

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth (Ps 19:1-6).

Thankful worship.

Thankful worship is the right response of anyone who understands that God is the everlasting Creator and caring Shepherd of his people. And thankful worship is the natural outlet pipe of a heart that is radically transformed by the Holy Spirit, when the Word of Christ dwells richly in us (Col 3:15-17). In all circumstances and for everything, it’s God’s will for us to give grateful thanks to Him (1 Thess 5:18).

If we don’t give thanks to God for who He is, for who He has made us, and for the wonderful things He’s done and is doing, then we’re the ones who will suffer for our ingratitude. God’s glory is self sustaining and not dependent on our thanks. Even the stones would cry out if we were silent (Luke 19:40).

Listen to this wonderful song by Sandra Mc Cracken, which reminds us that God is altogether good. And that’s why it’s altogether good for us to direct our thanks to Him, and to thank those whom God has provided to help us on life’s journey.

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