Like me, do you ever find yourself in your prayers thanking God only generally for who He is? You know, the prayer that sounds something like, “Thank you for being you, God.” Of course, we are thankful that God is God, but will this kind of prayer best lead us to “abound in thanksgiving”? I think we need to be more specific. And one way to be more specific is to ask, “What particular things about God am I grateful for?”
The one attribute of God that has flooded my heart and mind of late is His providence—the fact that He orchestrates everything in my life for His glory and my good. It’s the promise of Romans 8:28-29: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
In his helpful book, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, Jerry Bridges applies Romans 8:28 to the sin of ingratitude. He counsels: “The meaning is that God causes all things to work together for good; for ‘things’—that is, circumstances—do not work together for good themselves. Rather, God directs the outcome of those circumstances for our good.”
And what is the “good” God is working? Christlikeness. Indeed, God uses all of our circumstances as a means of our sanctification. I begin to abound in thanksgiving as I consider that God is directing the stream of my life one direction: heavenward.
This Thanksgiving holiday I pray that Immanuel Bible Church is a people “abounding in thanksgiving.” And for this to happen I know being generally thankful for God will not do. We need to meditate on some particular glories of our great God—not least of which is His perfect providence over our lives. I am confident that as we do this our hearts will spill over with gratitude to the God who causes all things to work together for the good of His people.
[image credit: stuckincustoms.com]