We should all strive to be ever-thankful. It’s easy to look at the people around you, see how much they do for you, and consider how you can better show gratitude. However, that feeling is exponentially present when considering the works of our God. It’s genuinely impossible to recognize everything God does for us and for our benefit. Even things that may seem negative in our lives later turn into positive learning experiences for which we give thanks. I find it beneficial to reflect on all God has done for us in a spirit of thankfulness. God’s provision reminds me of one of Jesus’ stories.
After a significant teaching in front of the Pharisees, Jesus speaks to his disciples and says this:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds… … And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:22-26;29-31
To think of God’s provision is astounding. He cares for us so much that he would not let us starve or go without clothing. Often it can be hard to feel like God is providing for us. Perhaps you have a comfortable living arrangement, a house, a local grocery store, and a sufficient-paying job. While these things can feel like a product of our own doing, these are all things functioning under the sovereignty of God. Perhaps that is not your situation. Maybe you’re between jobs and struggling to put food on the table. If so, you’ll relate better to Jesus’ audience in this passage. The disciples were not the wealthiest group of men in Israel. However, Jesus still reminded them of this truth, not to ignore the issues they may have worried about in the past, but to remind them who is in control.
Jesus shows us God’s provision before he feeds the 5000. Just before a miraculous multiplication of food, Jesus stops to thank God for what he has provided. Even though it was insurmountable, Jesus thanked God for providing for His people.
He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
Jesus gave thanks, not because of what God was about to do, but because of what God had already provided.
It’s so easy for us to fall into the trap of thanking God once we’ve ‘arrived’ rather than thanking God for what he had already given us. How often do we pray and ask God for something instead of stopping and remembering all the answered prayers that have gotten us to where we are today? How often are we hesitant to thank God for something because it didn’t look the way we expected? Surely the disciples didn’t expect the food they gathered to be so scarce. Nevertheless, they sat and watched Jesus thank God for what he had provided. Why would Jesus thank God if there wasn’t enough food? Because Jesus knew God’s nature, he wouldn’t let those seeking His wisdom go hungry.
Perhaps David understood this better than anyone else. David wrote Psalm 69 towards the end of his life, after seeing plenty of struggle and success. He said this:
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
So give thanks to the Lord! He has provided great things for you! Not only has he provided a means for you to be fed and clothed, but he has also offered eternal life through Jesus Christ. How thankful are you that Jesus took your place on the cross? The author of Hebrews says this,
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Some translations change “acknowledge” to “giving thanks.” Nevertheless, the message is the same. We praise God and show him our thankfulness by acknowledging the supremacy of Christ! Christ is God in the flesh, and the humility of our creator is something for which we can have endless thanks!