Were you to come into my kitchen, you would likely notice a medium-sized, terra-cotta chalkboard hanging on the wall. It was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, Virginia, that has hung there for more than three decades. I love it because it reminds me of how hospitable she was. Over the years I have used the chalkboard to greet visitors with one single word–WELCOME! However, during this past year of the pandemic–when visitors have become a rarity and the news disheartening–the message on the board has been expanded to three words: “Give Thanks Always!”
Those three words have served as a reminder to myself and anyone else who sees it, that whatever the day brings, God is in it and is worthy of our trust. To give thanks always is:
- To say, “Yes!” When God asks the question, “Will you trust Me in this?”
To give thanks always:
- Opens a door to see ourselves and our circumstances through His eyes.
Finally, to give thanks always is:
- To deepen our faith; rooted in an ever-deepening relationship with Him.
Yesterday I was thinking about how differently God perceives beauty compared to people. While we humans measure beauty by outward appearances, God looks at the heart.* I remembered a promise from God given through the prophet Isaiah, that one day His people would receive “a crown of beauty (in exchange) for ashes.” When. I found it in Isaiah 61, I was touched by its beauty and splendor as it pictures the coming of Christ and His Return:
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me,
because the LORD has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of our God’s vengeance,
to comfort all who mourn,
to console the mourners in Zion—
to give them a crown of beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
and a garment of praise for a spirit of despair.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness
the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
I was especially touched by the images that follow the exchanging of a crown of beauty for ashes, where it continues with making choices grounded in faith. As we give thanks always, we choose the oil of joy to replace mourning and put on a garment of praise as we refuse to give way to despair.
In this year of a pandemic, when fear and uncertainty have been our most frequent visitors, the words of the Apostle Paul continue to ring truth:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6, 7
The question to think about is: How deep are your roots? In this time when fear and uncertainty is so pervasive, giving thanks always to our Sovereign and Good God is the best way I know of to deepen spiritual roots. As we remember the wondrous work of Christ on the Cross, rooted and secure in Him, giving thanks always becomes a joy for all who place faith in Him.
All to His Glory!
*“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7