Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A., Counseling
As we continue this year-long study on what it takes to maintain 2020 vision, another means of staying focused is thanksgiving—giving thanks to our Creator in all circumstances. (Please keep in mind that these twelve elements of 2020 vision are not ranked but are presented thematically. As such, we are reviewing thanksgiving in the month that we celebrate said holiday.) There are many references to giving thanks in both the Old and New testaments. Expressions of gratitude were the primary means of enjoying one’s relationship with God. David is perhaps the best known of the Old Testament writers for giving thanks and praise. His psalms would often voice concerns and cries of distress, only to conclude with thanksgiving and praise:
To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:8-12 ESV
David intimately expresses the transformative power of thanksgiving that turns mourning into dancing—leading him to declare never-ending thanks to God. The Apostle Paul understood this important aspect of thanksgiving. With heartfelt gratitude to his Lord and Savior, Paul exhorted the churches in Rome, Corinth, Colossae, Ephesus, Philippi, and Thessalonica to give thanks to God in all circumstances. Perhaps the best know passage comes at the conclusion of his letter to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 ESV
Prayer coupled with thanksgiving is an unstoppable force that overcomes our fears and anxiety with the supernatural peace (shalom rest) of Christ. In particular, when we give thanks to God in the good and bad times, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s promises in Christ that reassure us that he is working all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Indeed, voicing our gratitude to the Triune God who gave it all for us brings perspective to our temporal stressors that otherwise distort and skew our eternal outlook. There’s no better way to sharpen our 2020 vision than to give thanks to the One who restores sight to the spiritually blind.