A New Year’s Charge; Consider the Great Works of God and Give Thanks!
Happy new year! If you are like me, new beginnings birth new hopes in my heart. The year 2021 is no different. Yet, the new hope may dim when we consider the realities around us, the fact that 2021 is awfully similar to 2020.
Last year, we were all tested in different ways. We endured lockdowns and couldn’t visit family and friends for months. Some people received pay cuts, and even worse, others lost their jobs. The world was full of scared hearts, and the air smelt of despair. But God remained constant. There was not a day that He left Satan, the ruler of the world, to sit on His throne.
As we begin this year, which is not so much different from last year, I want to remind us of truths that transcend the 365 days year calendar, or our life’s experiences; our God does great works that we cannot comprehend. He has commanded us to offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Our God thunders wondrously with His voice and does great things that we cannot comprehend (Job 37:5).
We are all acquainted with the story of Job. Though a blameless man, as described by God, he suffered the loss of property, loss of his children, and affliction of his body after God allowed Satan to afflict him, so that He would prove Job’s devotion towards Him. Unbeknownst to Job, a court case happened in heaven where he was the topic of discussion. In the twinkling of an eye, he came from riches to poverty.
As would be natural for any man who has walked blamelessly with God, and who feels God has treated him unjustly, Job complained. At one point, he confessed that there was no difference between a wicked man and a righteous man because God would deal both with similar cards (Job 21:15, Job 34:9).
Elihu, Job’s friend, and the young wise man who had waited to speak after the other friends turned Job to focus not on his suffering, but God’s greatness and majesty (Job 36 &37).
Similarly, I’d like to call our hearts to contemplate and ponder upon God’s greatness once more. Take a look at the heavens; He created them and suspends the skies high above the earth. Our eyes cannot take a gaze at the sun. How much more at His glory? We are in the rainy season. We have always known January to be a dry and dusty month. Our God causes rains to fall on the earth, and not even science can comprehensively explain seasons!
So far, there’s not a day that light has not dawned in the morning or a night that darkness has not fallen. God let the sun march out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. Did you see the moon last year, in its full glory? No star has fallen on earth from heaven. Have we considered the Mighty hand behind these?
Consider God’s grace upon our country. We all agree that our politicians are a bunch of selfish individuals whose goal is to fatten their pockets and bellies while at it. We have often felt frustrated because we voted them in to represent our interests, even though they don’t seem to care a tad bit about us. But has our God forgotten us? He has provided our daily bread, and though most people have not been in surplus, we have had at least a meal per day and a shelter over our heads.
Most importantly, God has given us Christ. This is His greatest mighty work! Imagine the despair and hopelessness of sin and the tragedies of this world. Yet, God has revealed Himself amidst the chaos of COVID, world war III rumors, and all that the year 2020 was. Still, He has not allowed us to experience the full effects of our sinfulness. He is exceedingly gracious!
Paul, in Romans 1:21, states, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
Have our troubles blinded us from seeing the works of God and giving thanks to Him? Or have we remained too fixated on lists of supplies we want God to give us, to acknowledge the different ways He has been providing? Have we disregarded God, failed to honor Him, and been ungrateful to Him?
It is possible that our hearts have accused God and found fault in His dealings with us. Maybe the reason we have never gone back to church is that, like Job, we do not see the difference between those devoted to God and those who rebel against Him. Probably we have coasted through religious activities and maintained a form of godliness, but lack the conviction that our God is good because we have not stopped to consider His goodness and give thanks. Maybe our hearts are full of grumbling like the Israelites in the wilderness.
As Paul writes in the verse above, dishonoring God, failure to acknowledge Him, and ingratitude produces foolishness and idolatry. Essentially, when we are ungrateful, we are disregarding God’s goodness revealed through His mighty works. We imply that nothing in our lives is worthy of His praise. Ingratitude means that we prefer the gifts over the Giver; we would rather have a certain thing than God. Ingratitude is a sin.
As we embark on this year, I charge you to obey Psalm 50:14-15, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Playing church and offering mere lip service to God won’t do. Our God requires from us much more than that. In Psalm 50 He tells Israel that He is weary of their religious animal sacrifice, which they performed as though to do Him a favour. He reminds that the universe and its fullness belong to Him. Instead they are to come to His presence with grateful hearts.
May our praises to God stem forth from a deeply grateful heart, one that has been sincerely affected by the evident works of God.
Though we are hopeful, we are not certain how the year 2021 will turn out. Only God knows! But, we can develop the right posture of heart and attitude by learning to ponder upon the mighty works of God and being grateful. When we do this, we will agree with Sussanah Spurgeon, “The soul that has learned the blessed secret of seeing God’s hand in all that concerns it, cannot be a prey to fear, it looks beyond all second causes, straight into the heart and will of God, and rests content, because He rules.”