As the Advent Season of the year is just around the corner, Christians across the globe are started observing Thanksgiving prayers. There are so many reasons to thank God for God’s sustaining mercies and blessings in our lives as individuals, families, churches, communities and nations. The book of Psalms is one of the most beautiful collections of thanksgiving songs we could reflect upon. Let us look into Psalm 103 a little closer to understand in Five Points, the reasons why we should be thankful to God for God’s many blessings, guidance and the protection we receive throughout the year and in the days to come.
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
1. Thanking God for the forgiveness we have in Christ.
This is the greatest blessing. As Martin Luther said, all Christians are saints and sinners simultaneously. Through Christ we are redeemed from our sin and are counted in the company of saints. On the other hand, in our human frailty we are inclined to do sinful things and no human efforts are strong enough to prevent us from sinning. But the grace of God is powerful enough to forgive our sins if we truly repent and ask forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
2. Thanking God for good health.
The whole world had gone through one of the most challenging health crises due to Covid19 pandemic from the past two years. It shattered us and even as we are learning how to live with it, the painful impact it has on many individuals, families and communities continue to traumatise us. Even as the world seems to be breathing a better atmosphere, good health comes as a strong reminder of God’s blessing and we should never take our health for granted. Though God does not guarantee healing every time we get sick; but when we do get sick and recover, we understand God’s intervention in our lives. God works through medicine and doctors to heal us. God often speaks to us in the thickness of our struggles.
3. Thanking God for redeeming our life from destruction.
There can be many reasons in our lives that we go for self destruction. When we find life is not how we wanted it to be and beyond our control, many fall into depression and self destruction. In order to avoid the reality of life, some tend to find comfort by taking alcohol excessively; some take drugs and other substances and wander away like lost sheep and like the prodigal son. Even when we do not know how to find our way back to normal life and back to our family and society, God cares for each of us and seeks us out till we are found. God answers the prayer of our family, our friends and our church community because we all are precious in the sight of God and God redeems our life from destruction. As the psalmist says “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:13).
4. Thanking God for God’s loving kindness and tender mercies.
God’s love and mercies are real and we are to be thankful to God. As the Psalmist says –
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:8-14).
5. Thanking God for God’s provision.
Even in our most vulnerable situation, even when we do not know how to pray, we just need to be thankful to God for our very lives. In times when we do not even get enough food to eat, proper clothe to wear, no proper roof above our heads, and on sick bed, we may question in our heart, how is it possible to be thankful to God in the midst of such hopelessness. The testimony of a boy, whom we met during our BSI Scripture Engagement programme in a hospital in Bangalore city is so encouraging to hear and to learn how to be thankful to God. This boy Madu (name changed) was able to thank God, even as he was on a sick bed for several months. He just thanked God for his life, the food and the clothing provided by the hospital, the hospital bed to sleep on, the prayers of the hospital chaplain, the Children’s Pictorial Bible to read over and over again, the care he received from the doctors, nurses and hospital attendants. He never gave up on his life as he found God in all these. Later, the chaplain of the Hospital reported to us the amazing story of this boy. On the day he was discharged from the hospital with a wheel chair to use till the time he no longer needed it, his words were marvelous testimony (a translated version). “I will continue to pray and thank God for everything, and be a faithful follower of Christ. I will pray for the sick and for the needy and that people may find peace in all circumstances”
By Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi,
Church, Public relations and Resource Mobilisation