Enjoying the Journey
Like most of you I try to make a list each Thanksgiving of reasons for which I am grateful to God. Obviously it is never complete because the blessings never end. This year I have decided not to make a list. I am taking the list of Another who is far better at thankfulness than I.
The Gospel records provide insight not only into the prayer life of the Lord Jesus but into His “praise life.” The Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief was constantly thanking His Father. His thirty-three and a half years were spent not only considering the joy that was before Him (Hebrews 12:2) but also the joys that were all around Him. This is where I so often fail. I speak of the joys of Heaven to come but fail to recognize the Heavenly joys that the Father has sent down to me now.
I believe our Saviour was a joyous person. It was this beauty that was so attractive to both hardened sinners and innocent children. I want that.
The grateful spirit of Jesus was one part of this beautiful life. He showed appreciation to those who ministered to His physical needs and those who offered Him worship. But true thanksgiving was reserved for the One who was worthy of it. Again and again our Lord gave thanks to His Father. And so should we.
Why did Christ give thanks?
- The Lord Jesus gave thanks for food.
Perhaps this seems the simplest thing on earth. Maybe that is the point. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). It all comes from Him.
When our Master took seven loaves and a few little fishes and fed four thousand, He gave thanks. When He broke five loaves and two fishes and fed five thousand, He gave thanks. When Christ bowed His head at the last supper with the disciples, He gave thanks. When He was asked to have dinner with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He gave thanks.
The Creator of all sustenance gave thanks for simple provisions. When we sit down at the table with our families we should do the same. Every thing on the table is a reminder of the One who made all things for us to enjoy.
- The Lord Jesus gave thanks that the Father had revealed truth to common people.
In the middle of teaching His disciples, Jesus began to praise God: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25).
Looking at rough fishermen and everyday workers, He could not contain His gratitude that Almighty God would choose to bring the riches of His glory to them! To me! I stand amazed that the Lord would let me be a recipient of His grace, a participant in His master plan. Thanks be unto God!
- The Lord Jesus gave thanks that His prayers were answered.
Standing at the tomb of Lazarus, about to raise him from the dead, the Bible says that “Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41).
The answer was not yet visible, but the prayer had been answered. What a lesson in faith! Faith and an attitude of gratitude always go together. We should never take for granted that God hears and answers our prayers.
Stand at your need, stand in the place of broken hearts, and rejoice that God hears you.
- The Lord Jesus gave thanks for the provision of God in the midst of suffering.
He would be on a cross in just a few hours. Enemies were plotting His death. Gethsemane and Golgotha lay ahead. He took bread and a cup and gave thanks. This is more than thanks for food and drink. The bread represents His body that is to be broken; the cup represents His blood that is to be shed.
Thanks? On that night? Christ gave thanks with the confidence that God’s plan was being fulfilled. This is the meaning of “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
The Lord delivered a powerful lesson on thankfulness in Luke 17. But He did more than teach it…He lived it.
Peter tells us that we are to follow in the steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21). To follow His steps is to follow His example of gratitude. Leslie Flynn once wrote that Christ is not only the goal of our gratitude but the guide of it as well. Use Jesus’ “list” as your guide this Thanksgiving and give God glory for every good gift. He is wonderful and He is worthy.