One of the most destructive conflicts in European history was the Thirty Years War, fought between 1618-1648. By 1637 all the pastors of Eilenberg, Germany had either abandoned the city or died of disease, leaving a Lutheran Deacon named Martin Rinkart to care for the spiritual needs of the city. In the ensuing years, he performed 4,480 funerals, including the funeral of his wife. In 1637 alone, 5,000 people died of starvation and disease in Eilenberg, at which time Rinkart was officiating over 40-50 funerals a day. Rinkart was also a prolific writer of poems and hymns. Amid this great privation and suffering, he wrote a hymn that reveals the faith of this man of God.
Now Thank We All Our God
Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.
All praise and thanks to God, the Father now be given,
The Son and Holy Ghost, with Him in highest heaven;
The one Eternal God, whom earth, and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
Think for a moment, about the backdrop against which this hymn of thanksgiving was written the brutalities of war, disease, starvation, and privation of every imaginable kind. Now, compare that to the backdrop against which your life is presently being lived.
The Scriptures exhort us to, “Give thanks to the Lord and bless His name” and “…always give thanks for all things…” also “…in everything give thanks…”
When, as Christians, we come to understand that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3) we will also understand that nothing can touch or enter the life of a Christian without God’s permission, be it the thrilling mountain tops of life or the deep valleys. God, in His infinite wisdom allows these things for our growth and His glory. We read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Giving thanks in everything and for every circumstance is not lunacy, it is a statement of faith that our Sovereign Lord is in control and He indeed knows what He is doing.
This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, for the believer, every day ought to be Thanksgiving Day. And though it is right and proper for us to set aside special times to contemplate our blessings and to corporately offer thanks to God, the significance of Thanksgiving Day is greatly increased when it is rooted in a life that is permeated with gratitude.
As you gather with family and friends this week, as thankful individuals, may you together, lift your hearts, hands, and voices in thanksgiving to the Sovereign Lord who holds you and keeps you, clothes you and feeds you, sustaining you by His grace and mercy on both the mountain tops and in the valleys of this life.