The one hundredth Psalm is a call to praise the Lord; so let us give ourselves wholly over to thanksgiving to the One we call Father, One who is basically a stranger but for certain attributes revealed in the Bible and seen in the character of His son, Jesus Christ.|
This One we praise, so far as human logic can bear upon the matter:
• allowed man to fall
• is responsible for cholera in many countries
• starvation of tribes in North Africa and Calcutta
• permits innocent people to be murdered
But who also,
• has mercy that endures forever
• not willing that any should perish, but everyone saved
• answers prayer
• so loved the world to give His only son for salvation of the world
It is no sacrilege to say that God is a mystery, for so the scriptures say themselves. And to this awesome being, for what ought we to be thankful? We can thank Him for the fellowship of like-minded Christians. Fellowship is an imperative of life, foreclosing loneliness. We can thank Him for family, wealth of food and raiment, and for the beauty of the world round about. As He has given me these things, so can He take them all away,-friends, family, wealth, health. Said Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” But there are other, more important things to be thankful for.
I thank God for the human condition. We are remarkable creatures. This statement seems silly because we have nothing to compare ourselves to; we know nothing human that is different from ourselves. However, some of the power and awesomeness and intellect of God is revealed through His creatures, to wit: the curious and marvelous combination of good and evil; the will to act or not act; joy and sadness; the lust for power; the feeling of humility. In a word, the inner and external conflict that is the very soul of life. I thank God when He gives us the strength to overcome roadblocks, internal or external. I thank Him for the power He gives for the joy that we feel and for the peace He can give.
Let us thank God for the gift of conscience: the awareness of what is pure, noble and right and what is wrong and debasing. Let us thank Him when we triumph in the battle that is life. Let us thank Him when we are brought low, when we are humbled. Let us thank Him for suffering, and the patience and courage to endure. Let us thank Him for the capacity to doubt, to be full of doubt. Are these strange things to thank God for? Is it masochistic to do so? Humiliation, suffering, doubt? Are these not needed if we are to be refined in the crucible of life? Was any character ever formed without these trials? The apostles welcomed them. We all show each other our smiles, and very little of our suffering. But I thank God for my suffering. I know it has made me a better man.
At last we can even thank Him for the relief of death, when we are too tired to go on. One once said, “a man needs to die, as he needs to sleep.” It’s remarkable how long it takes us to become that tired. The brotherhood of man can thank God for the overwhelming will to live. God has given His creatures hope and the will to live, because He has made joy a relative thing. A mere bowl of rice for a hungry mother and child brings more joy than you would have for a new car. Happiness, however brief, comes to every life in every condition. God has made us willing and able to bear all sorts of burdens and endure and suffer for those moments of happiness. For this we thank Him.
Job was the recipient of a great reward as recorded in 42. 11 - 17, following his trials and suffering. This reward was not the true blessing bestowed on him. In the end Job finally understood that he could never absolutely understand or grasp the ways of God; that the relationship between work and reward is in God’s eyes, far different from ours. At the close of his book we see that Job knew a far more powerful and mysterious being than at first. He could never know all of God. It made him a better man. If we accept the fact that life is a tragedy, we can better direct our lives toward an end that will lead to a new life, where the word will not be valid.
We often say that the only way we can obey the first commandment, to love God with all heart, soul and mind, is to obey the second, love neighbor as self. This is a way, but not the only one. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a man who was truly thankful? (Picture prisoners set free from a concentration camp.): moist eyes, full of adoration, a heart rending experience. The emotion of thankfulness is the most pure, most unalloyed , most humble, and the most exalted. We can feel it when we say “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Praise him, praise him, let all the people praise him.