Friday, January 8, 2010

Being thankful

I know that Thanksgiving is past. But does that mean we cease to be thankful? Sometimes it does. We are thankful at the right time - like when grandma comes and gives the card to the grandchild and we tell them, "Tell Grandma thank you." And the child says, "Thank you" in a voice that sounds more like they are telling the dentist "thank you" for a root canal.

What makes it so hard to be thankful? The bitter cold weather when the car won't start and you are late to work? The drive that needs shoveled, for the third time since the wind keeps blowing it back closed? The cold feet because the blood doesn't circulate like it used to? The family that never calls, stops by or even acknowledges that you are a live? Do those things make it difficult for you to be thankful?

Take some time to read the book of Habakkuk. (Look in your table of contents if you don't know where to find it.) It is a little 3 chapter book by the prophet Habakkuk. He was looking at the situation of Judah (the southern kingdom) around 600 B.C. This is just before Babylon destroys Judah in 589 B.C. Things are looking bleak. Egypt is no help. Assyria is a pain in the neck. But Babylon, watch out for them! They are like locusts devouring a field. It is like the Blitzkrieg of the Second World War. Nothing could stop them. Nation after nation has fallen before the power of Babylon. And now, they had set their sites on Judah.

Habakkuk laments that God must not be able to act. And if He is able to help, it seems like it is too little, and too late. Kinda sounds like us, doesn't it? All the things piled against us makes us moan and groan and wonder where God might be. Why does He not act? Why does He allow someone to die so young? Why does He allow families to be torn apart? Why does He let sickness get hold and cause such pain and suffering? Why does He let it get so cold outside? Where are you God? That was the cry of Habakkuk.

God acts. He plans. He works things out. It is beyond comprehension. He says that to Habakkuk. He has a plan but Habakkuk just can't see it. yes, Babylon will come and take over Assyria. In the process, Judah will go to captivity. But God would rescue His people as Babylon falls (which to Habakkuk didn't seem likely but did happen 70 years later, much like the former Soviet Union).

But that isn't what I was thinking about. Read Habakkuk 3:16-19. Amazing passage. No matter how difficult the situation, Habakkuk teaches us to be thankful. "I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sounds; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." (NIV)

No matter how bad it is, I will be joyful in God, I will rejoice in Him. That, my friends, should be our mantra. Instead of moaning and groaning, we should rejoice in God. Our situation may really stink, but we can still rejoice in god. Our life might be difficult, but we still can be joyful in God. That is the message I want you think about. Be thankful. Why? You have a God who loves you and cares for you. You have a God who truly does know what is happening in your life, understands your problems, your fears, your issues and has done something about them. He has given His Son. He stepped into this world for you. His plan is beyond comprehension. But it is also complete.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord...that my friends, is why we have so much to be thankful for.

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