Re-post of Guest Devotional – By Steve Fry, our pastor at The Gate when we lived in Franklin, TN.
Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices; Who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices. Who, from our mother’s arms, hath led us on our way, With countless gifts of love… and still is ours today.
Those words were penned by a 17th century German pastor by the name of Martin Rinkart. He wrote this ‘prayer’ for his children to offer to the Lord. Not all that unusual… Until we understand the backstory.
For Rinkart pastored a small village, Eilenburg, which had been decimated by war. He saw his colleagues and flock perish by the hundreds, victims of what was called The Great Pestilence of 1648. He buried his wife, buried his friends…At one point he was conducting 40 funerals a day.
Yet… he had learned to be thankful. He had learned a secret that is often missed in the very rushed world we live in today. A secret that Brennan Manning speaks of when he says, “We’re not joyful and then become grateful—we’re grateful, and that makes us joyful.”
As we survey this past year, I’m sure that we can all find a fair bit of disappointments, discouragements, and perhaps even deep losses. I’m sure we can also find the chuckles and the friends – and the many moments where God made us so very aware of His Presence!
In all these things, we can truly be thankful, for gratitude doesn’t have to wait for circumstantial happiness. Thanksgiving is always just a breath away, for in that moment of thanks we take a stand for hope in God’s faithfulness, and repudiate the lie that our circumstances determine our future.
You have a future and a hope, the prophet Jeremiah said (29:11), and it is continuous thanksgiving that will give you eyes to see what that hope looks like. It may not look like what you think it should look like, and if you see life through the lenses of discontent, you most likely will be blind to that future. A life of thanksgiving will adjust your sight to rightly see your future. Complaint and regret will merely shut you in the prison of your memories, and your hope –though right in front of you – will go unrecognized.
Rather, may the Spirit of God grant us the perspective of an Apostle Paul, who could say “though dying, behold we live; though persecuted, we are not killed; though sorrowful, yet we always rejoice; though poor, we make many rich; though we having nothing, yet we possessing everything.” (2 Cor. 6:9-10)… An ‘everything’ that can say with joyous abandon, “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices!”
Note: Donna and I are so grateful for the year we were able to spend at The Gate; the many wonderful friends we made, the love of God we experienced there and the blessing of Steve Fry & his wife Nancy. Steve is the President of Messenger Fellowship http://www.messengerfellowship.com/#/associates/executive-team