Thursday, February 12, 2009

Being Thankful for Things NOT Received

The worst natural disaster in Australia’s relatively short history causes most of us to reflect and feel and pray for those who are suffering the loss of loved ones and homes, and even donate to funds that will help restore these people and communities ravaged by fire. It is heartbreaking.

One of the things I’ve reflected on of recent, and since this tragedy, is being thankful for not being touched by such devastation. And then I came across this quote:

“For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received.”
-Storm Jameson.

We don’t often think of thanking God for those things he hasn’t sent us, for instance, a job loss, a runaway marriage partner, or a terminal illness. And, of course, we get into all sorts of a fluster over what we attribute, theologically, as that which God ‘sends’ us, after all he’s a God slow to anger, abounding in his love, isn’t he?

Yet the Bible records many things that he has sent (or allowed); not all of them were or are appreciated. Job, for instance, learns the most profound lessons about God’s providential ways--but only after a significant portion of time in Gehenna. His suffering did have a purpose.

But there is often (though not always) a theological pattern to it. Repent and wholly turn toward him and he will favour us in his own way; in a way that is truly good for us, from the eternal sense, according to his sovereign plan.

I heard on a radio program, in discussing community responses to the fires that some Christians had alluded to this being a ‘judgment from God.’ How ridiculous is it to attribute something like this to God’s judgment. It’s a role confusion--who speaks for God in this way?! In any event, why not any other area of Australia? At a time when God’s people are most called to the compassion of Christ in a crisis such as this, the opposite hypocritical response comes and is plainly not helpful.

We digress… thankfulness for things not received is the matter of this discussion.

We ought to be entirely cheerful in life with our present and past lots, and regarding hope for our future. Everything we have is from God, as well as everything we don’t have. Not having certain things and experiences can be a very good thing.

Isn’t it quite weird that God is very unpopular for all sorts of reasons? He brings (or allows) bad things and suffering some say--would a loving God do that? Others say he requires too much. ‘What point,’ say others. These, of course, are consistent with the modern humanist view in full flight; a view that there’s no need for God--that we’re better off without him.

I suspect few go the spiritual journey with God because they’re afraid of what they might have to give up. Suddenly they might not receive what they’ve grown accustomed to. They think not of what they might gain from committing to a relationship with God.

Most of us plain want our own way. We’re not thankful for the things we’ve been given and we’re certainly not grateful for the things we’ve not been given.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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