A key element to religions and personal faith, to national cultures and mental wellness, is giving thanks. Strangely, some of the great Bible verses about thanksgiving are in the context of warfare and victories over enemies, sometimes quite graphic. That might be more to do with human habits than the character of God.
There are also times when a Bible writer has grasped a deep truth, that the mighty, the Almighty God has somehow met them, known them and loved them, forgiven them and rescued them. It brings about a huge sense of gratitude, this personal understanding of God’s mercy and love. This flows into their writings and we can share those emotions as we read them. Both views are kept in the Bible; the national and the personal.
Our time this spring is going to be remembered in similar ways as the historians begin to put together the stories of the different governments, policies and statistics together with the accounts of individual tragedies acts of courage. It is right to be thankful for victories but also for challenges and even losses, for these are also times when we learn and grow, though we may not see that for perhaps years after. We may carry the pain and the worry for a long time but we rise through, we adapt.
In the Eucharist, the Holy Communion service, thanksgiving is one of the most important parts. Alongside the retelling of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, there is a thanksgiving for the bread and the wine and for the love that Jesus showed in allowing himself to be the sacrifice for us.
Many health professionals, therapists and artists would say that a thankful person is a more peaceful, stronger person. They are less fearful and just a touch more confident.
As Paul signs off in one of his earliest writings:
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians ch.5 vs.16-18) I cannot think of better advice in our currently regulated times.
Be safe, Revd Kevin Chandra