A Brief Meditation for the Month

June 2018

One of the evidences for grace in the heart of a child of God is the spirit of thankfulness to God for all his merciful dealings with him or her. The Patriarch Jacob confessed before God, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant,” Genesis 32:10. God’s dear children can join with Jacob, as they sense their own personal unworthiness of not just the temporal and material blessings they enjoy from God’s generous hand, but more particularly, the blessings of the gospel—the spiritual blessings that are theirs, all through grace. Christians always find reasons for thankfulness to God, whatever their portion or experiences in providence.

Matthew Henry, whose Bible commentary is still widely read, when urging Christians to maintain amongst their prayers, those of thanksgiving, referred to a personal experience he had of being robbed on one occasion. His reaction to the experience was not one of grief or of complaining, but of thankfulness. He recorded in his diary, “Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, let me be thankful that although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” I am certain that many would have reacted quite differently in the same situation, but where the spirit of thankfulness exists within the heart, the Christian will always see a multitude of reasons to be thankful to the God of providence, whatever the circumstances, and however adverse they may appear to be. The puritan author, Thomas Manton, observed, “Before the corn be ripened, it needs all kinds of weathers, and therefore the husbandman is as glad of showers as sunshine, because they both conduce to fruitfulness. We need all kinds of dispensations.” Experience teaches God’s children just how true this is. The Psalmist therefore, did not complain about God’s sovereign afflictive dealings with him, but instead confessed, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted,” Psalm 119:71. He had learned that affliction was a necessary ingredient in the process of spiritual development.

Amidst all the varied trials and difficulties that confronted the apostle Paul, his language was “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15. Consideration of God’s great gift of a Saviour, ought to produce outpourings of sincere gratitude to the One, who because he loved, he gave, John 3:16. No redeemed and justified sinner can possibly forget their lost and perishing condition, when divine mercy found them, and the love of God, in Christ Jesus, embraced them. Why, we may ask was Paul personally, so readily thankful? He gives us his reason, when writing his first epistle to Timothy. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15. He confessed to Timothy that he had previously been a “blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” In spite however, of his fierce opposition to the gospel, and his relentless persecution of Christ’s followers, he could testify, “but I obtained mercy…And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant.” 1Timothy 1:13&14.

If we know this grace of God experientially, we will take to heart the words of the Psalmist, and, put them into practice: “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.” Psalm 95:2.

G. G. Hutton.