A journalist in the West Australian wrote that he had observed that, “no one ever blames God when they win the Lotto!” It was a good and apt comment.
Why is it that we, in Australia, appear to be so self-consciously slow in giving God thanks or to calling out to him in times of trouble? I have noticed in recent disasters that even church leaders do not urge us to pray to God. If they happen to urge us to pray it is to any god and then they go one to encourage us with the ‘resilience in the human spirit’ rather than the mercy of God.
I was particularly saddened by the dean of the Cathedral in Christchurch for the comments he made after the earthquake as well as the many he failed to make.
Jeremiah the prophet, appealing to his thankless contemporaries, posed the question, “is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Job had answered his wife who, following their loss, suggested that he should curse God with those memorable trust filled words, “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Thanksgiving to God is our proper duty as God’s creatures. It is as an old preacher said, “like paying the rent!” But it is more than this. Every fall of rain, as with every withholding of rain, is a gracious reminder from God that we cannot live without Him. The temporal blessing of rain not only should take us to our knees in prayer and loosen our tongues in praise for the food we enjoy but draw us to Christ who alone can meet our deep inner thirst for meaning and refreshment and keep us alive through the judgement.
Just as rain reminds us of our utter dependence on God for life, so the dew of God’s blessing, to be found in Christ, alerts us to our utter dependence on Him for pardon. The one should lead to the other.
In fact, failure to give God thanks for what is self-evident from creation – gifts like sunshine and rain – is enough to render us guilty in His eyes.
The General Thanksgiving makes this connection so very well. “Almighty God, Father of all mercies – we bless you for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of his life; but above all for you amazing love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace and for the hope of Glory.”
How good is that! The hope of plenty of water, a good crop, green pastures and splendid garden is one thing, but confident hope of eternal glory is another. Both are worth having, but only the latter is essential and eternal. The former, with all its bounty and beauty when combined with the evident love of Jesus for us, should be enough to whet our appetite for the glory of the New Heaven and the New Earth.