Stand and Be Thankful
It is good for us to be thankful. A recent trend in the productivity industry – or at least one that I have recently noticed – is improving productivity by teaching people the practice of expressing gratitude. Simply taking ten minutes at the end of each day to list three things for which we are thankful is said to improve our perspective and our attitude, thereby increasing our productivity.
So what are you thankful for today? Over the Thanksgiving weekend (here in Canada) social media was flooded with Facebook posts and Instagram stories, displaying all that people are thankful for: family, the beauty of God’s creation in landscapes and sunsets, God’s provision of a hearty meal. Many people even express thankfulness for their dogs, and one or two maybe for their cat.
It’s Hard to be Thankful
The recent events of our world can make difficult for us to be thankful, as it can feel like the world is falling to pieces. Hurricanes have left untold numbers homeless. A man shoots into a crowd of people enjoying a night of music, taking 58 lives, and impacting hundreds and thousands more with fear, grief, and loss. Wildfires are burning out of control. Earthquakes rock major cities. And this is only what we see on the news.
Each of us deal with personal struggles that weigh on us as well: finances, relationships, the pressure of a career, raising kids, the experience of grief and loss. We know of hardships happening to others within our circles of influence, and we often feel ill-equipped to help.
It is easy to lose hope in our world today. And if our hope is in things that are temporary, it should not surprise us when they are shaken and when they fall.
The Thanksgiving of King David
In Psalm 23 King David grapples with the realities of the world in which we live. King David experiences the highest mountain tops and the lowest valleys of life, and yet he is able to be thankful.
David begins this well-known psalm with a picture of a shepherd caring for his sheep; green pastures, still waters, the peace and security of being watched over by a Shepherd who cares so much for us that He would give his life for each and every one of us, leading the sheep along what David calls, “paths of righteousness.”
This all sounds like a comfortable, safe, easy life. Yet David makes it clear that even along this path, we will encounter difficulties and trials. He calls this, “the valley of the shadow of death,” and it’s no walk in the park. David is describing his darkest times of life, and he attributes them to the evil of this world. That’s why he declares that he will not fear the evil, but he will continue to follow the Shepherd who keeps watch over him.
Let’s be very clear about the reality in which we live. Bad things happen, and all of us will one day experience a dark valley or two in our lives. It is these difficult times that put our character and faith to the test. In these times we have a choice to either blame God for the bad that is happening, or press in to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, where we will find all that we need to endure and prevail over our challenges.
God Provides All We Need
I have always been perplexed by the table prepared for David in the presence of his enemies (verse 5). Did God set this table so that David might invite his enemies to dine with him, thereby turning enemies into friends? That might be the peacemaker in me talking, but it is not what David teaching us here.
Louie Giglio, in his book Goliath Must Fall (a book I recommend for your personal reading), explains that this table is a table of provision. The enemy – be it fear, anger, lust, hate, addiction, greed, self-centredness, pride, or anything else that extinguishes the light of Jesus in your life – has no place at the table God has prepared for you. God provides all you need to face the darkest valleys of life, and come through them on the other side thankful for His provision.
And the greatest provision of all is His presence.
Be Thankful for His Presence
God’s grace has made a better way for us. When the things of this world shake and fall, Jesus Christ remains our salvation, our hope, and our strength. Jesus never leaves us, he never fails us, and best of all, he equips us to stand firm and push through our darkest times.
”Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s evil schemes… Therefore put on the full amor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-11, 13
When the world feels like it is falling apart, be thankful that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to know God. He has given us his Holy Spirit to fill us with wisdom, strength, and courage.
Let us stand and be thankful.