We live blessed lives. This might not be at the forefront of our thoughts as our car breaks down, we’re cramming for a hard test, or a family member falls seriously ill. But yet, even in our troubles and stresses we know that God does all things for the good of His children. His love for His own is unfathomable.
He has given us so many gifts for which to give thanks. He has given them to us, who were depraved sinners and really deserve nothing but the worst for our sin. Of course the greatest and most obvious blessing is that of salvation and eternal life and glory with Him. Everything that we have, though, is a blessing. It is all a gift from His hand. The breath in our lungs, the relationships that we have, the skills and abilities we may possess, the food on our tables, and the cars we take to work…all of these are things that have been placed in our lives by the grace of God. He did not have to give us these things, and indeed, sometimes He in His goodness chooses also to take them away. As much as we may be dependent on things, or believe that we somehow have a right to all of these things, we deserve none of it.
We can find blessings too, even in “bad things.” That test that you just failed? Well, for one thing it means that you have been given the opportunity to attend school and get an education in the first place. Also, odds are now that you have learned a lesson and will budget time better and be more attentive in the future. That difficult teacher that frustrated you so much? Because of him you learned in one semester what someone else might not learn in four. Because of him you have learned dedication and respect. Because of him you have a step up in your studies to come. That furnace that just broke? It means you have a place to call home. What about when your 21 year-old sister dies when you are only in the fifth grade? Your only sister? The one who was your role-model growing up, who wore all of the jewelry you made her, hung up your smudgy drawings on her refrigerator, and, while she was still at home, did your hair every week for church? What about then?
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God love us, and nothing can separate us from Him. He is love and goodness, and “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God uses even the “bad things” to make us exactly who we are today, to teach us lessons, and to draw us closer to Him. His ways may not be our ways, but He works all things righteously, and blesses us in ways that we cannot imagine, and in the end we may say, as Job did, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25,26). It is as Augustine prayed: “Give what Thou dost ask, and ask what Thou wilt.”
Truly we are a blessed people.
This blessedness has a few implications though. First, it implies that we are to be a thankful people, and not as the nine ungrateful lepers of Luke 17. We are to give thanks always (Ephesians 5:20)! In our accomplishments and possessions we must remember the words of Deuteronomy: “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:11,17,18a). In remembering God’s holiness and promises may we as the Psalmist say, “To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever” (Psalm 30:11-12).
The second implication of our blessedness is the accountability we have as a result. To whom much is given, much is expected. Remember the parable of the talents, wherein the traveling man gave talents to his servants (Matthew 25)? There are three things to note about this parable. First, the talents were given to the servants to use. The talents were not inherently the servants’. The servants recognized what they were given as belonging to their master. Secondly, the servants were expected to use the talents wisely as good stewards of what they were given. The servants who were given two and five talents were rewarded, because they used the talents they had been given and had through their labors made increase. The servant who had squandered his talent and buried it was unfaithful and slothful, and his only talent was as a result taken from him and given to the servant who had originally been given five talents. Third, the talents were meant to profit the master, not the servants. The good servants worked for the good of their lord, who in the end rewarded them for their faithfulness.
We have been given many things. Because we have been given such things, we have the responsibility to use these blessings with the knowledge that they are the Lord’s and not our own. We have the responsibility to be good stewards of what we are given, working wisely and diligently and not wastefully or slothfully. Finally, we are to use what we have been given not for wealth, for social status, or even for simple comfort. We aren’t to use our skills or possessions to look good in front of others or to find happiness or stability in this crazy world. We are to use what we have been given for the glory and favor of our merciful Savior, and in that we may find true reward.
There is a warning here too, lest we fail to use these things rightly, and become as the unfaithful servant. The servant that loved not his lord and failed to use his talents rightly was cast into “outer darkness” where there was “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
One of the weightiest gifts we have been given is the knowledge of God. It bears huge responsibility. As the elect it is above all other blessings, for in God alone we have life, hope, and peace! But woe to the man who knows of God, but buries that “talent” in the ground, rejecting Him! Indeed, it would be better for him if he had never known, for because of his knowledge he is all the more guilty and left without excuse! Woe indeed to any reprobate who follows after His own vain imaginations, for he shall find eternal judgment as his reward. “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).
God’s elect, though, are comforted with the knowledge that though we are no better ourselves, we through Christ’s redemption have the blessedness of salvation. We have endless reasons to give thanks…and the great, amazing, and striking fact is…we have eternity to do so! How amazing that is and how honored and blessed we are, who deserve none of it! It is with great humbleness and joy that we celebrate this Thanksgiving day and thank and praise God for all that He has done for us!
“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:15-18).