"16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As we approach Thanksgiving Day this week, Paul reminds us that we should be thankful constantly...and in all circumstances. It's easy to be thankful for what we see as the good things in our lives; harder, to remember to be thankful during times of hardship, loss, illness or disappointment. Yet, those things can also end up bringing growth and blessing to us.
Here's a story recounted by Arthur Bietz, a pastor who wrote for an inspirational newsletter in the 1950's.
Martin Rinkart was a pastor in the little city of Eisenberg in Saxony during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). This walled city was the goal of refugees during that time. They came and ate all the food, and then there was starvation. With the starvation came pestilence, until practically the whole population of the city died. Martin Rinkart, the only pastor left in the city, had as many as fifty funerals in one day. One evening after having conducted funerals all day, he sank down exhausted, thinking that he could bear it no longer; but then it was he wrote the words of the famous hymn:
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers' arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
Yes, it is the will of God for us that we give thanks. If we were not thankful, we would go insane with the perplexities and irregularities of life's experiences. If there was ever a time when we needed to be thankful, it is in the hour of crisis; because if we are not thankful, we will be overwhelmed by despair.
By Arthur L. Bietz, Signs of the Times, November 28, 1950
May your Thanksgiving Day and all your days be richly blessed by God whose love knows no bounds!
For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.Mark 44:12
Jesus and the apostles sit across from the Temple treasury and watch people deposit their offerings. He doesn’t specifically comment on the rich people who make large donations, but we can’t help but draw a connection to his comment about the scribes who like to call attention to themselves. And then a widow drops in her two coins–as Jesus notes “out of her poverty (she) has put in everything she had.”
I don’t think Jesus is looking to have the poor give away everything they have–but I think he’s asking us to examine what we choose to give. Do we give (our time, our financial support, our attention, etc) only from our “abundance?” Do we sometimes think that what we can offer would be so small that it wouldn’t make a difference so why bother?
A pastor in another church I attended did a wonderful illustration with the children that showed how “lots of littles” can make a big difference. He had a small table, something like the one our ushers have to hold the bulletins by the door. He called up a young person and asked them to imagine that they could only use one finger on one hand–and asked them to lift the table. This ingenious little boy tried to hook his finger around the edge, push up from the center, but nothing succeeded in getting the table off the floor. Then Pastor called up three other children and each put a finger under one side of the table–and it rose off the floor and they could carry it and move it easily.
We should not hesitate to dedicate all that we have or can do, great and small, easily given or produced through hardship, to God.God’s love can magnify the impact of even our smallest efforts done to his glory.