By Jerry Price
Retired Pastor, Spring Hill
“A party of pioneers on the Oregon Trail suffered for weeks from a scarcity of water and grass for their animals. Most of the wagons had broken down, causing endless delays in the stifling heat. A feeling of fretfulness and futility prevailed. Optimism and cheer were gone. Courage was in limited supply.
“One night the leaders called a meeting to air complaints. When they gathered around the campfire, one man stood up and said, ‘Before we commence our grief session, don’t you think we should at least first thank God that He has brought us this far with no loss of life, with no serious trouble from the Indians and that we have enough strength left to finish our journey?’
“The other settlers agreed. After the brief prayer, all that could be heard were the cries of a distant pack of wolves. There was otherwise stone silence around the campfire because no one had any grievances they felt were important enough to voice.
“They suddenly realized if they couldn’t be satisfied with what they’d received, they could at least be thankful for what they’d escaped. Thankfulness enabled them to see the mercies of God they had been overlooking” (Gregory L. Jantz, Becoming Strong Again, Baker, 1998).
Like those early pioneers, sometimes it seems that life is encumbered by one obstacle after another. When that happens, we can lose focus on the blessings and benefits that abound to us.
Only when they took time to express gratitude toward God could their focus and attitude change. I find that to be so true in my own life. You probably have, too. So, what do we have to be thankful for? Though space is limited, let me name just a few that will, hopefully, spur your own thoughts.
First, we should be thankful for who God is. We can think in terms of His divine attributes. He is Omniscient. He knows everything about us and the entire world. Nothing escapes His attention. He knows every trial and tribulation we face. He knows every stumbling block and temptation that our adversary throws up in front of us.
But He not only knows about them, He knows the solution to them and gives us what we need to face them.
Which leads me to His second attribute — His Omnipotence. He is all-powerful. When my strength and ability fail, He is able to give me what I need to face every situation (Philippians 4:19).
Let’s face it! The world is growing more and more antagonistic to our Christian faith. I believe that it has grown worse recently — and will continue to get stronger. But God has the power to give us what we need as we face it. Don’t give up or give in. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b).
Third, God is Omnipresent. He is everywhere at the same time (Deuteronomy 31:8; Is. 43:2). He is always with us in whatever situation we find ourselves.
Remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3)? When the king looked into the furnace, he saw four men — not three. I especially like verse 27 where we are told that “the smell of fire was not on them.” The only thing that was burned was the ropes that bound them.
That is only the beginning. We can be thankful for each of God’s attributes (see https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/attributes-of-god). Then think of all that God has done and continues to do.
We have more than enough to be thankful for.