So many times during the month of November we seek to encourage people to look around at all their blessings and abundance and stop to thank God and show appropriate gratitude. It often seems we are like the little child excitedly opening presents when our mother stops us in the midst of our indulgence in the gifts—reminding us to thank the giver.
We refer to the original pilgrims and their feast — which celebrated their survival of a difficult year and blessings of God’s hand of protection on them — as a reason to give thanks as a nation. But is the giving of thanks exclusive to the United States? Is gratitude a “reaction” to receiving goodness—like the little child on his or her birthday?
Job suffered the loss of all that he had and stated, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” He dealt with tragedy and heartache because of His great loss yet proclaimed, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 2:10; and 1:21). How can this overriding of our default emotional and physical make-up be possible? It is obvious that Job wept in sorrow for his loved ones, as he was not emotionally detached in any way—that’s not what this means. What is worth learning is that in great loss, the nature of God was not compromised by Job’s immediate circumstance or events! We live in a world cursed by sin and infected by its permeation. Bad things happen, not due to the sins or evil of the one experiencing it, but because our world is really messed up.
As our family experienced and continues to deal with some excruciating pain of loss recently, it is the common belief and deep trust in a gracious, loving, and compassionate God that sustains us. God in His very nature cannot change. He will always be the God which Moses proclaimed as, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 33:6,7). The choice to be thankful is before us in good and hard times. We must establish deep roots of faith and dependence upon God and never question His actions so that difficulty and pain can be experienced in perspective.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “What shall we say then, if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31). God experienced the incredible loss of His only begotten, and He empathetically comes alongside of us and is for us in all of our pain and loss. He, himself, is the gift so worth giving thanks for.
At Grace Christian University, we endeavor to teach our students and instill by example this deep faith; knowing they graduate and go forth to serve in a fallen, pain-filled world. As you partner with us in this ministry through your prayers and financial gifts, let us all choose thankfulness as our perspective and our hope. We don’t doubt the character of God, therefore the circumstances of life will not derail our faith. This is my prayer for you—deep thankfulness born from a heart of resolute faith in our unchanging God.