And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:15-17
Europe's Thirty Years' War was fought from 1618 to 1648.
Martin Rinkart was a pastor from 1611 to 1649. During a single year, 1636, Martin Rinkart buried 5,000 people from his community. That's almost 100 every week. Day after day, Rinkart tasted the worst that war could dish up.
The year the plague came to Rinkart's town of Eilenburg, there were four pastors serving the community. One ran away, and Rinkart ended up burying the other two.
Now, if you take a look in a Christian hymnal -- just about any Christian hymnal -- you will find that in the year 1636, Martin Rinkart wrote a prayer for his children. That poem is a hymn now.
"Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms hath blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love and still is ours today."
To continue to sing songs of thanksgiving when faced with the insecurity of an unknown tomorrow is a most unusual gift. Not everyone has that gift -- not back then, not now, especially not now.
Today, our country has many problems. It is the same in our nation's homes. No sooner does one threat pass by that two more are identified. There seems to be no end to the trouble that seems ever ready and eager to insert itself into our days.
If you agree, and if you find yourself being pressed on every side, then maybe it's time to take a page from Rinkart's poem book. Maybe it's time to thank our God. And if you can think of nothing for which to express your appreciation, here is a starter list:
1. Your town doesn't have the plague.
2. You haven't had to bury a few thousand people.
3. You have the Lord by your side at all times.
Now you may not feel like thanking the Lord for those gifts. If so, remember, we can still show our appreciation for, as Rinkart put it, the "wondrous things He hath done." Yes, we can thank Him for His Son, for forgiveness and peace, which is given to those who believe. Indeed we can show our appreciation that God's justice and grace have come together in the Person of His Son, our Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, create a new and thankful heart within me. Grant me the grace to acknowledge and appreciate the wondrous things You have done. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries