And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “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 34:6-7a
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, LORD. Psalm 25:6-7
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:3-5
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Being grateful – thanking and praising God is easy in times of celebration – on our wedding day, at the birth of our first-born child, on the day of our child’s wedding or at the birth of a grandchild. But in other seasons it may be more difficult to see our blessings and thus it can be more difficult to be thankful to God. Yet Paul encourages us to, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” I Thessalonians 5:18.
In The Hiding Place, written by Corrie Ten Boom, she gives a vivid example of how to thank God even in dire circumstances. Corrie and her sister Betsy had been sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Corrie discovered that their barracks are ridden with fleas. But Betsy remembers this verse in I Thessalonians and they begin thanking God for everything they can think of, including the fleas. Later they learn that the guards leave them alone, and allow them relative freedom in their barracks, because of the fleas. As a result, Betsy and Corrie are able to read their smuggled Bible freely to the other women and many learn about Jesus.
In many ways, we are in an in-between season. It may be difficult to see things to be grateful to God for right now. But I encourage you to pause, reflect and find ways to thank and praise God. Before we knew Christ, we were all broken, selfish, only looking out for ourselves and in need of a savior. “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved,” Ephesians 2:4-5.
Looking around our world, you may struggle to find something to be grateful for, as Corrie did – not wanting to give thanks for fleas. But we have a God who is a, “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin,” Exodus 34:6-7a. We can be thankful for his unfailing love and mercy toward us, we can thank him for Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Think about the past year, make a list of ways God was faithful to you, to our loved ones, and to our church. Thank God for each item.
By Grace Hunter