You will find at least three occasions in the life of our Lord here on earth when we are told He gave thanks to the Father. This was brought to my attention in a sermon by one of my favorite writers, George Morrison. It was said only in passing, but it spoke volumes to my own heart. Perhaps it will to you, as well. The three occasions I want to address speak of three categories of life that should illicit gratitude to God.
“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise all the fishes as much as they would.” (John 6:11) We take things like food and drink as an ordinary part of life. Unless disaster strikes, in the majority of countries in the world today, the kind and quantity of food may vary, but abject hunger is not the problem it once was. When you and I pray for “big things,” I doubt food is on the list. But when Jesus told His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” He also showed us the need to thank God when that prayer was answered, no matter how often. Life is made up with all kinds of ordinary things. If you’re thankful for them, that’s a lot of gratitude going on there!
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21) What could be more ordinary than children? They’re not likely to add to our standing or wealth in this world, but Jesus wanted us to know that God thinks so much of them, He loves to reveal Himself to them in a way that makes us often say, “Oh, to have the faith of a child!” I have a strong suspicion that many of us are tempted to overlook their potential, for all our patronizing words. And we don’t just do it with children. It’s easy to underestimate the value to our lives of ordinary friends and family. Therefore, we often forget to (truly) thank God for them. Jesus didn’t suffer from such shortsightedness.
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.” (Matthew 26:27). In the prelude to the darkest hour of Jesus’ life on earth, He thanked His Father for not just the bread and wine he was sharing with His friends, but what it represented: His own soon to be broken body, drained of all its life’s blood. If there was ever a time when one might be excused for lack of gratitude, this was such a time. But He looked beyond the Cross to the Glory. Oh, what hope and peace His hour of trial brought to you and me! And if you and I can look beyond the pain to the “joy set before [us]” (Heb. 12:2), we, too, will say to the amazement of those around us, “Thank you, Father.”
Ordinary things, ordinary people, and extraordinary trials. May you and I follow our Lord’s pattern in thanksgiving.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!