Our gracious heavenly Father delights in giving good gifts to His children. Just think of all the ways He touches us every day - every heartbeat, every breath of air, every ray of sunshine, every drop of water, and so much more! In response God is pleased when His children return thanks for all his blessings. Of course, in this world there's no guarantee that the sun will always shine. There will be times and seasons when heart and breath are labored, and your cup runneth over, not with blessings, but with sickness and trouble. In Luke 17 we read about ten lepers. One day they meet Jesus, and within the hour they are cured! Ten cured - only one came back to say thank you. Jesus asked,
Where are the other nine?
Gratitude is not natural to man. How many times have parents reminded their children to say
thank you? Yet too often those same children forget. And that's in good times. What about when times are not so good? Just imagine what would happen if war, sickness, starvation, and bereavement came to your home at the same time? That's what occurred back in 17th century Germany to a pastor by the name of Martin Rinkart. With the Thirty Year's War raging, an epidemic of cholera and famine beset the small village where Pastor Rinkart lived. At the start Eilenberg was a village of about 8000. But over the next years, 4500 residents, 3 clergymen (all but Martin Rinkart) his beloved wife and most of his children were all dead. Many of the funerals, including his own loved ones were presided over by Martin Rinkart. They were dark days. Yet on one of those days he wrote the following words:
Who wondrous things has done; in Whom His world rejoices.
Who from our mother's arms has blessed us on our way,
with countless gifts of love... and still is ours today.
We forget because, being conceived in sin, by nature we are thankless. We receive all these blessings from God with little or no thought, surprisingly even taking for granted God's greater things of forgiveness and mercy. So what is God's solution? In a word: REPENTANCE. Only when God changes your heart will there ever be godly thanksgiving. This kind of thanks is different from worldly thanks; different because it is uniquely given in view of the cross. And so even when things go bad, God's people can pray and praise Him with thanksgiving.
To the 1 out of 10 lepers who returned to give thanks, Jesus said,
Rise, go your way. Your faith has made you well. GODLY THANKSGIVING! Only the Spirit can teach such thanksgiving, even sung in the midst of pain and life's struggle. May the Lord help us by His Spirit and Word to be His
~ Pastor Kelly G. Mitteis
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