The Pastor’s Page
November News Letter
Thanksgiving is approaching once again, and as I contemplate what Thanksgiving is all about I have come to the conclusion that most of us are a bunch of ingrates! For example, do you have good eyesight? Well, have you ever thanked God for it? Have you ever thanked God that your heart keeps beating 24 hours a day? Have you ever thanked God that you have the ability to earn a living, or do you gripe and moan when you have to go to work? Did you ever thank God that there are people who love you? Did you ever thank God simply for being alive?
The list of blessings we take for granted could go on and on. Like a child who expects dinner to be on the table every night, we seem to expect that God will provide our every need. And if we can’t get what we want, we can get very upset or sink into depression. I believe that the only way we can avoid depression and anger when things don’t go the way we want them to, is by making an intentional effort to thank God for the things that go right every day of our lives. If we develop an attitude of constant thankfulness, we will begin to notice God’s constant blessings all around us, blessings which our ungratefulness often blinds us to. An attitude of thankfulness will enable us to see God’s hand in the smallest details if our lives, even in places that might seem God-forsaken.
Let me share the story of Martin Rinkert, a pastor in Eilenberg, Germany 350 years ago. A year after he began his ministry, in 1617, the 33 Years War broke out and his town was caught right in the middle of it. Then, in 1637, a massive plague that swept across Europe hit Eilenberg. People died at the rate of fifty per day and Pastor Rinkert buried most of them over the next 11 years. More than 8,000 people died including Rinkert’s wife. His ministry had spanned 32 years, all but the first and last years overwhelmed by war and plague. It would seem that there would have been very little for Rinkert to be thankful for. And yet, a hymn of thankfulness that Rinkert wrote has become one of the treasures of the Christian church. The opening lines will probably sound familiar: “Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices. Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices.”
Astounding, isn’t it? How could Martin Rinkert have ever been so thankful? Perhaps the answer lies in this daily prayer that he had memorized and repeated every day of his life:
Thank you Lord that you chose to open my eyes this morning and give me the gift of life one more day. May I remember this day that every breath I breathe has its origins in your grace. Thank you Lord that whatever this day holds, my time is in your hands to use as you see fit. May each moment be lived in praise and thanksgiving to your name. Thank you Lord Jesus that you have redeemed me by your precious blood, that I live today forgiven even though I know I will fail, that the life you have given me cannot be taken by this war or plague. Thank you Father that you have given me strength and courage today to be a comfort to those who are suffering. May I seek to be the one who comforts rather than the one who is comforted. Thank you Father that even though I do not have the power to bring peace to this war torn village, I do have your gift of peace to give to each heart one person at a time. Thank you Lord Jesus that in the midst of hatred and killing, nothing today can separate me from your love. May I show that love even to my enemies. Thank you Lord that even though I may not see any reason to hope today, that in my heart you are my living hope. May I walk by faith and not by sight. Thank you Lord that I still have a voice by which to speak. May each word I say be an encouragement to those who are suffering rather than a word of despair. Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices.
Well, what more can I say after that? Let me just close with the words written on an epitaph to Martin Rinkert that remains in his church in Eilenberg to this day:
“Never was a man more loved by his congregation and every person in this village. He was a light in our darkness. His thanksgiving in all circumstances brought food when there was no food, hope when there was only despair, peace when all around was the ravages of war, love when most hearts were filled with hate, joy in small things when our heart were filled with sorrow.”
Amazing what an attitude of thankfulness can do!