1 Thessalonians 5:16 - Rejoice always!
This past week I was talking to a lady about the list of things for which I am most grateful.
Even as I was speaking, I could see her sit up a little straighter, and set her jaw a little firmer. When I finished, with a tough tone in her voice and a steely look in her eye, she said, "I have absolutely nothing for which to be thankful."
This was amazing since this 81-year-old lady was very well off; she still lived on her own; she only went to the hospital when she was calling on her younger friends; and when she did visit them, she drove a very expensive, late-model luxury car.
Now I know some of you may find yourself in agreement with that lady. If that's the case, I've got something in my hand that will change your mind and put things into perspective.
And what can perform such a miracle? Nothing less than a copy of the health history form I got from my doctor. You know, the papers you have to fill out before you see a physician for the first time. Well, that's the form he gave me for this devotion. Now you may be having a bad year, but let me ask you what the doctor asked me.
"Do you have blood pressure or related problems, liver problems, gallbladder problems, yellow jaundice, hepatitis, heart trouble, kidney disease, stomach problems, indigestion, ulcers, bleeding tendency, excessive bruising, any part of your body paralyzed or numb, broken bones in the face, neck, jaw or back, back problems, excessive scarring?"
Folks, that's just part of column one in a document that runs four pages and is twelve columns wide.
You may have some of those things I just listed, but you don't have all of them. This means if you can't give thanks for what you've got, you can give thanks for the things you don't have. Unfortunately, giving thanks just doesn't come easy to many of us.
Look at the story of the children of Israel. Through some mighty miracles, God had freed them from slavery and then He had destroyed Pharaoh's chariots. This should have made God's people thankful. It should have, but the 15th chapter of Exodus says, "And the people murmured against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?'" (Exodus 15:24).
God took care of that problem, and the people left God alone until the very next chapter. Chapter 16 says the children of Israel murmured against Moses (saying), "For You have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger" (see Exodus 16:1-3). God took care of that, and the people were pleased until chapter 17 where it says that the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Wherefore is this that You have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst" (see Exodus 17:1-3).
You get the idea. They came to God when they wanted something; they complained when He didn't give them what they wanted; and then they ignored Him until they wanted something else.
We who no longer have our sins counted to us because of the Savior's intercession ought to learn from their mistakes. Because of the Christ, we have been forgiven; we have been freed from the terrors of hell; and we have the promise of eternal life in the mansions our Savior will bestow.
And that, my friends, is plenty cause for which to give thanks.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, when the Holy Spirit gives me a new heart, may a great part of it be reserved for the giving of thanks to my gracious Lord. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries