Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
[1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 NKJV]
It is easy to see that, with all the pressures and desperately difficult circumstances everywhere, mental health issues are on the rise. None of us are immune, when we face being restricted in our movements, unable to meet our friends without wearing face protection and keeping our distance. We have only been able to be with others in our family once in the last seven months. There seems to be rising discontent whenever we go shopping - the "we're all in this together" spirit of early lockdown is wearing thin at best - an increase in lack of consideration for others is prevailing, and more and more are flouting the government line to protect our health. The outlook for the next few months is bleak.
And yet ...
We who have faith are fortunate indeed. We have somewhere to turn when the worst happens; or, more likely, some minor irritation or frustration gets in the way of communion with Christ. This morning, I was assailed by such a minor thing. I prayed to be rid of this mood - in reality a spiritual attack with which I was colluding (a spirit of vexation) - and the answer came back "Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart". It really helped, singing that song to myself as a prayer.
In researching something about the song, I discovered that it was written in 1978 by an American named Henry Smith. Over the years he had written many songs of worship, but this remains his only published composition. He wrote the song after having difficulty finding employment, and his local pastor had talked to him about how Jesus became poor so that others could become rich through Him. Smith began performing the song in church, from where it was taken to Europe to become the hugely popular hymn it is today. Sadly, Smith suffered from a degenerative condition which has left him legally blind, but despite this his song attests to his belief that by giving thanks to our God, we are assuredly blessed.
In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonian church, he stresses that we should give thanks in all things, whether good or bad in our eyes, noting the order that Paul has placed his statements in verses 17, 18 and 19 or chapter 5.
I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.
[Psalm 138:1-3 NKJV]
Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart Maranatha Singers
Sunday 11th October 2020
If a man will resign himself in implicit trust to the Lord Jesus, he will find that He leads the wayfaring soul into the green pastures and beside the still waters, so that even when he goes through the dark valley of the shadow of some staggering episode, he will fear no evil. Nothing in life or death, time or eternity, can stagger a soul from the certainty of the Way, for one moment.