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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Our life long task is to develop an attitude of gratitude

Our life long task is to develop an attitude of gratitude

Thanksgiving is one holiday that has not been commercialized. Being thankful for all God’s gifts is a life long task, not just a once a year occasion.

An unknown author said, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”

Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, declared, “When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.”

St. Paul urges us to be always thankful. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (Col. 4:2)

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6)

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Tim. 4:4)

Martin Rinkert was the son of a poor coppersmith, but managed to work his way and acquired an education. In 1617 he was offered the position of Archdeacon in Eilenburg, Germany. A year later, the 33 Years War broke out, and his town was caught right in the middle.

In 1637, the massive plague that swept across the continent hit Eilenburg. People died at the rate of 50 a day and Martin had to bury most of them. More than 8,000 people died, including Martin's wife. His labors finally ended about eleven years later, just one year after the war. His ministry spanned 32 years, all but the first and the last overwhelmed by the great conflict.

How could Martin Rinkert be thankful with all the pain and sorrow he endured? Yet he wrote the familiar hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

Perhaps the secret lies in the daily prayer that he had memorized and repeated every day of his adult life:

“Thank you Lord that you chose to open my eyes this morning and give me the gift of life for one more day. May I remember this day that every breath I breathe has its origin in your grace.

“Thank you Lord that whatever this day holds, my time is in your hands to use me as you see fit. I have no plans of my own. May each moment be lived in praise and thanksgiving to your name.

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have redeemed me by your precious blood that I live today forgiven although I know I will fail, that this war or the plague cannot take the life you have given me for eternity.

“Thank you, Father, that you have given me strength and courage today to be a comfort to those who are suffering. May I seek to be the one who comforts rather than the one who is comforted.

“Thank you, Father, that although I do not have the power to bring peace to this war-torn village, I do have your gift of peace to give to each heart one person at a time.

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, that in the midst of hatred and killing, nothing today can separate me from your love, not life or death, not principalities or powers, not hindsight or depth. May I show that love even to my enemies.

“Thank you, Lord, that although I may not see any reason to hope today that in my heart you are my living hope. May I walk by faith and not by sight.

“Thank you, Lord, that I still have a voice with which to speak. May each word I say be a word of encouragement to those who are suffering rather than a word of despair.

“Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices. Amen.”