Now Thank We All Our God!
“Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done,
in whom his world rejoices…”
Trinity Hymnal # 98 “Now Thank We All Our God” (Verse 1)
In recent months at Lake OPC we have been doing a “hymn of the month,” singing this hymn at every morning Lord’s Day service during the month. Our hymn of the month for this month of November has been the wonderful hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” It is appropriate during this season of the year as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday to consider all that we have to be thankful for, and singing such hymns of thanksgiving is one way to focus our hearts on this important biblical call to thanksgiving.
The society and culture in which we live do not at all help us to nurture a spirit of thanksgiving and contentment in the things with which God has blessed us. Instead, our media, our educational system, our government, and sometimes even the churches, cater to a spirit of discontentment and envy — both of which are the opposite of thanksgiving. For example, our entertainment media often undermine a spirit of contentment and thanksgiving by promoting movie heroes who live exciting, high energy, adventurous lives which can make the routines of our ordinary, every-day existence seem rather “boring” and mundane. Such boredom can be the occasion for us to feel discontented with our job, our family, our spouse, our possessions, and our life circumstances in general. The product advertisements that help to support the entertainment media seek to persuade us that we will finally be happy and content once we purchase and possess the latest techno-gadget, or the newest line of sports car, or the fancy new toy, or whatever else is being sold. Our government sometimes pushes the legitimate concept of “rights” to such an extreme that we come to feel a sense of entitlement, and thus an attitude of thanksgiving and contentment become replaced with a bitter spirit and a grievance mentality when we do not receive the government “entitlements” we have been led to believe we have a right to receive. And even in the churches a false, man-centered message prevails, a message that basically says “God wants you to be blessed, to be happy, to be healthy, to be wealthy, to be comfortable.” This false gospel of greed and materialism deeply undermines a spirit of true thanksgiving and contentment, for so very often life in the real world is not the “happy clappy Christian” song sung by the prosperity preachers, but instead even for the Christian real life can be full of trials, tribulations, challenges, suffering, loss, disease, broken hearts, and broken homes.
As we approach Thanksgiving, let me encourage all of us to consider the many things that we as believers in Christ have to be thankful for. I will list some items under two categories: (1) Blessings of God’s common grace & general providence; and (2) Blessings of God’s saving grace & special providence. See if you can think of additional items to add to this list.
(1) Blessings of God’s common grace & general providence:
* Our daily bread (i.e., food).
* The measure of health and strength that we enjoy.
* The gift of family and home.
* The blessing of friendship.
* The privilege of serving God in our daily callings & vocations.
* The freedoms and liberties that we enjoy in this great nation of ours (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of the press, etc.).
* The relative outward peace and safety that God enables us to enjoy and which He guards through such institutions as the police and military forces.
* The sun that shines overhead, and the rain that God sends to water the earth and provide us with our needs.
* The singing of the birds and the symphony of nature, as it bears testimony to its Creator.
* The beauty and magnificence of a clear, star-filled night sky.
Can you think of other blessings of God’s common grace and general providence that you could add to this list?
(2) Blessings of God’s saving grace & special providence.
* God’s gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and who rose from the dead that through faith we might receive the free gift of eternal life!
* The Holy Scriptures, which are a “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.”
* God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, who works faith in us and unites us to Christ in our effectual calling.
* Justification before God on the basis of Christ’s righteousness alone, imputed to us as a gift and received by faith in Christ alone. The full and free forgiveness of our sins that is granted to us in our justification, and the wonder of the gospel truth that God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:4-5).
* Adoption as God’s children, and the Spirit of adoption by which we cry “Abba, Father.”
* The gift of sanctification, whereby God enables us more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.
* The grace of perseverance, wherein God enables us to persevere in Christ and in our faith even unto the end. The promise that God will ultimately bring us believers through the valley of the shadow of death into the glorious, loving presence of our Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
* The church and the means of grace (Word, Sacraments and prayer), by which our faith in Christ is confirmed, sealed, nourished, nurtured and sustained.
* God’s special providence in enabling us to hear the gospel and to receive it with hearts of trust in Christ.
Can you think of other blessings of God’s saving grace and special providence?
At this special time of year, let us seek to avoid a spirit of discontentment and envy. Instead, by the grace of God, let us nurture a spirit of contentment and thanksgiving. After all, whatever our life circumstances may be, if we are in Christ, we truly have much for which to be thankful.
Now thank we all our God!