November 2020 – George Herbert, Welsh-born English poet, penned the following lines which were published in 1633, the year of his death.
Thou hast given so much to me, give one thing more, – a grateful heart; …not thankful when it pleaseth me, as if Thy blessings had spare days, but such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
-From ‘Gratefulness’ by George Herbert (1593–1633)
These words represent a prayer by the author for a heart filled with praise for God, the source of all blessings. His words remind us that God does not just bless us some of the time, but every day! It seems to me his prayer is for discernment to see the hand of God at work in the ordinary moments of daily living. It is a prayer we can all pray and practice.
As we come upon the season of Thanksgiving we are reminded of just how blessed we are, but the true test of our faith in God is the ability to offer praise and thanksgiving in the tough times as well. Do we praise God in ALL things? That is the question. The writer of Psalm 34 proclaims, I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (NASB) That is a description of abundant living, not based on what we have or our current circumstance but who God is. Our praise for God is independent of any situation be it COVID 19, a contentious election, economic stress or civil division and unrest. God is able to comfort and care for his people through it all. Our only task is to remain faithful to Him and to continue to shine the light of Jesus into a dark and broken world.
God has poured out his grace and love upon us in so many ways that if we took the time to count our blessings, we would be forever at the task. And maybe that is the point. Thanksgiving is our full-time occupation as Christians. Let your words, your actions, your very life be an unbroken string of praise to the One from whom all blessings flow. God is worthy to be praised for all he has done! German theologian, philosopher and mystic, Meister Eckharthas said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you’, that would suffice.”
I wish you and your family well this season. And as we enter into the holiday rush, may you find your voice of praise and thanksgiving and may the Holy Spirit bring you peace. The words of a wonderful praise song come to mind just now to remind us of the ultimate expression of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
Peace to you,
*The Faith We Sing #2036. Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN: 2000
Words and Music: Henry Smith, 1978, Integrity’s Hosanna! Music