Why Be Thankful?
By Dr. Tom Berry
When the Pilgrims
proclaimed the first Thanksgiving they did so after the bitter cold
had decimated their number from 120 to 25. Only five of the
women had survived. All they possessed materially were a
few miserable huts, a few pitiful patches of maize and a few wild
turkeys. Someone observing the outward circumstances might
well ask, "Why be thankful?"
Fanny Crosby was blinded for life at
18 months of age when a doctor made the mistake of putting acid into
her eyes instead of a healing salve. Many would have
been very bitter over such an experience and raised the question,
"Why be thankful?" Yet, at eight years of age Fanny Crosby
"Oh what a happy soul am I Although I cannot see.
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't."
Fanny went on to write over six thousand hymns which grace the
hymnbooks of Christians around the world. Her very favorite
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. O what a foretaste of glory
Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed
in His blood.
This is my story; this is my song. Praising my Savior all the
David also had a thankful heart.
He wrote, 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..." Psalms 103:1, 2. David
proceeded to name some of the benefits for which he was grateful.
Perhaps God will enable us to share the same gratitude.
The Purging of Our Sins.
"Who forgives all your iniquities. . ."
Although David was an honorable man he knew he was a sinner.
In an unguarded hour he sinned as greatly as a man can sin.
Yet, David understood that all Old Testament sacrifices were
pictures of the coming "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
world!" (John 1:29) On that basis he asked God to
forgive him. The 51st chapter of Psalms gives us an insight
into his prayer of repentance. Then we hear him exult, "Blessed
is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity. . ."
(Psalm 32:1, 2a). David went on to say, "As far as the
east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from
us." (Psalm 103:12). Other scriptures tell us what
God has done with the sins of the repentant believer:
sins in the depths of the sea; (Micah 7:18, 19)
Cast our sins
behind His back. (Isaiah 38:17)
iniquities on Christ. (Isaiah 53:6)
sins to the cross. (Colossians 2:13 -14)
sins no more. (Hebrews 10:17)
May God help us to be grateful to God
Who has forgiven us our iniquities and not be one of those who "has
forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." (2nd
The Preservation of Our Bodies
". . .Who heals all your diseases."
David was undoubtedly a very strong
man. We wrote, "He teaches my hand to make war, so that my
arms can bend a bow of bronze." (2nd Samuel 22:35).
Yet, David also knew what it was to be taken down to the sickbed.
From thence he cried, ". . .My strength fails because of my
iniquities and my bones waste away." (Psalm 31:10b).
He also proclaimed, "But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord. . ."
(Verse 14). As a result he enjoyed healing and renewal of
My wife and I have a friend who held
the Pan-American Master's Championship for his age group in the shot
put and the discus throw. Just as he was preparing to defend
his titles in the fall of 1983 he came down with a virus that took
away his involuntary muscle nerves. In a brief time he was
unable to get off his bed. Thank God he has enjoyed a
recovery, albeit very slow. This emphasized that the strongest
among us can be taken down with a virus so small it can barely be
seen under a microscope. May we be grateful that Jesus is the
Great Physician and heals diseases as well as forgives sins.
May we be even more grateful if we have been spared from sickness.
May we also rejoice in the fact that someday for the believer, all
diseases will forever be healed and will be no more.
The Protection of Our Lives
"Who redeems your life from destruction. . ."
David knew what it was to live under
the sentence of death from king Saul. There were times when
death seemed imminent. Times when he crossed swords with the
enemy amidst the battle yells, rolling dust, and dying cries of the
battlefield. Untold times God had redeemed his life from
Although much less dramatic we can
say that God also protects us. A thousand people are murdered
across our land each month. Nearly fifty thousand are dilled
on our highways each year. Every day the obituaries report
those whose life came to an early end. Every believer can
claim this promise from God: "The angel of the Lord encamps
all around those who fear Him, and delivers them." (Psalms
The Privilege of Loving Kindness and Tender
". . .Who crowns you with lovingkindness and
tender mercies..." (verse 4b).
David had been exalted from the life
of a shepherd boy to the throne of Israel. He experienced the
ultimate in material and physical luxuries. He was honored
loved as Israel's greatest king. He was invincible on the
battlefield. As great as those blessings were David was
thinking most about being a child of God and enjoying the fellowship
and spiritual blessings of God through his life on earth and then
eternal glory with God in eternity.
What great loving kindness and tender
mercy from God we enjoy in America! Should anyone doubt
it, let them go where God's truth has not penetrated and they will
find ignorance, fear, demonic control, disease, and despair.
Go where God's truth has been rejected or stifled and there is
oppression by despots, limited conveniences, shortages of food and
other essentials and very little purpose for living. Beyond
all this however, the child of God can rejoice in being an heir of
God, a spiritual brother or sister to every believer, and an
ambassador of Christ to a lost and dying world. We too, have
been exalted to enjoy the loving kindnesses and tender mercies of
The Pleasure of Good Things To Eat
"Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so
that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." (verse 5).
David enjoyed good
things to eat. He praised God that his mouth was satisfied
with good things. How different this is from the puritan who
was given an ice cream cone and after one lick he gave it right
back. "Is something wrong with it?", asked the giver.
The puritan replied, "Anything that tastes that good has to be
sinful.!" In some quarters we have stretched out of proportion
the Bible truth that we are to deny self and live for Jesus.
Somehow we must make room in our theology for such verses as these:
"...Trust...in the living God Who gives us richly all things to
enjoy." (1st Timothy 6:17). "Every good
gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the
Father of lights, . . ." (James 1:17)
As we sit down to the
Thanksgiving meal let us also praise God that He satisfies our mouth
with good things so that our strength is renewed like the eagle's.
What about those times we go through the valley. Was Job a
religious fool when, upon receiving word that he had lost all of his
possessions and his ten children were all killed, he responded, "the
Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed by the name of the
Lord." No, for Job knew God had a purpose even though he did
not understand it. His statement, ". . .But He knows
the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth
as gold" (Job 23:10) reveals that he knew God was
developing spiritual qualities in him that would endure forever.
On earth God did give him twice as many material possessions as he
had in the beginning, and ten more children. In the glory he
shall have twenty children because he had never really lost the
first ten. They had just gone beyond the veil that separates
this life from the next one.
Was the Apostle Paul a
religious fool for pressing on in his ministry when he was lied
about, rejected, beaten, jailed, stones and left for dead? No,
for he could say, "...But we also glory in tribulations, knowing
that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character,
and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the
love of God has been poured out in our hearts. . ."
(Romans 5:3-5). Paul knew that even the worst of life's
adversities were a tool used by God to produce great spiritual
values in the believer. This is the reason he could write the
Thessalonians so confidently, "In everything give thanks!"
(1st Thessalonians 5:18.).
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