From the Archives: Why Give Thanks?

By John Aukerman

More than one hundred years ago, Charles Dickens wrote these words “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

These words seem to be fitting for the present day, as well! In the face of rampant crime, runaway inflation, natural disasters, last year’s mindless tragedy in Guyana, and hundreds of other tragedies, the question arises, Why give thanks? At this Thanksgiving season, what is there to be thankful for?

There is much to be thankful for! The psalmist tells us to bless the Lord, and forget not all God’s benefits! (Ps. 103:1–5). Then he begins to list some of the great things the Lord has done.

The Lord forgives all your iniquity. Think of it. The moment you repented and asked forgiveness, every bit of your sin was wiped out. That’s something to give thanks for! The songwriter said, “My sin—O, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole; is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!”

The Lord heals all your diseases. Some of us experience physical healing, and that’s something to give thanks for. Some of us bear some infirmity throughout life, and we need to remember that complete healing will come—someday. A day is coming when every cancer will be healed, every angina will be cured, every arthritis will disappear, and every blind eye will be opened. The Lord heals all your diseases—either in this life, or in the next!

But notice that the psalmist is also referring to soul diseases—things like anxiety, fear, loneliness, and depression. We can find healing for these and all other soul diseases! And that’s something to give thanks for.

The Lord redeems your life from the pit of death. The word used for redeem literally means that the Lord makes a trade, just like you would redeem trading stamps for premium at a stamp redemption center. The Lord made a trade for you! He went to the depths of despair himself, so you wouldn’t have to go. And that’s something to give thanks for.

The Lord crowns you with steadfast love. Even though everything around you seems to be coming unglued, even though it appears that nobody is trustworthy, God’s love is steadfast! God is still there and always will be there.

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen could ever tell! It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the sky of parchment made; were every blade of grass a quill and every man a scribe by trade; to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry! Nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky! O love of God! How rich! How pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure! The saints’ and angels’ song!

The Lord renews you. When life gets boring, dry, and empty, God sends new life! When burdens get too heavy to bear, God renews your strength! When you are afraid to turn either left or fright, God sends renewal. And that’s something to be thankful for!

Most Americans have everything they need, and most of what they want. Yet there is still something missing. They find it difficult to give thanks because all they value are the things of the material world. They see crime, inflation, disasters, and tragedies, and they despair.

But those who know the Lord can give thanks! We can give thanks for thousands of things but for these five, in particular: forgiveness, healing, redemption, steadfast love, and renewal.

John Aukerman is a retired Anderson University professor and former local Church of God pastor. His article originally was originally published in the November 18, 1979, issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission.

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