Sunday, November 25, 2007


O Give Thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; (Psalm 136:1-3)

My parents taught me, when I was still a small child, to say: 'thank you!'

Giving thanks is a simple matter. It is a very simple word to say. It is a simple attitude to take - thankfulness. However, the refusal to give thanks lies at the the heart of the human problem; and so the way in which we live within the creation, and among other people.

Of the first couple - the man and woman - we learn that 'though they know God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 1:21).

The problem of 'not giving thanks' is a refusal to acknowledge dependency upon God; it is a sign of a lack of humility; it is a sign of pride; it is a symptom of losing the sense of life coming out of love, from God, and as gift.

On one occasion, Jesus healed 10 lepers. Guess how many came back to give thanks?

Answer: 1.

"And he was a Samaritan"

Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, were are they? Was none of then found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go your way; your faith has made you well." [see Luke 17:17-19].

The sort of faith that makes you well, is thankful faith. One can be healed, but remain faithless, and even - strangely enough - unthankful.

Jesus came into the world, to recreate human hearts, in the image and likeness of God - to redeem our hearts and our lives - renewing thankfulness - and giving us a true, better, more vital perspective, and outlook on life. Thanks does not come naturally to sinful human beings; indeed it is against the sinful nature; however it is also part of what it means to be human; so as we know, many non-Christians can express thankfulness. And that is good. But to express thankfulness to our Maker, involves a new orientation, towards the one unto whom all thanks and honour is due.

Thanks arises when we experience the renewal of life, and the forgiveness of our unthankfulness, and of all our anti-God, lack of true appreciation for all that God - the Father - is, in and through Christ and the Spirit. He redeems us, even while we are ungrateful enemies. As Father, he reworks our hearts, in the furnace, and new mould of the cross - until we see the stunning truth. The truth we see in Jesus, suffering for all, (without any appreciation of what he is doing), is the truth of God the very generous, very kind, very -in-control giver: 'O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!'

'Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you' (1Thessalonians 5:18).
.... now that is a most extraordinary verse. Is God, really that much in control?