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Giving Thanks for Grace

Four years ago, our staff, Kyla, wrote a post about Thanksgiving in Taiwan. So much has changed in our ministry, and yet still we continue to have opportunities to be thankful for everything that has happened since then. We see evidence of God’s love and care even during very difficult times because of his promise to help and never leave us.

Rather than list all of your blessings, take a moment to consider how many of the good things that you have received this year were things that you had no part in and couldn’t have accomplished alone! Do we see our debt toward God and others and thank them for their help? Or do we only focus on the bad things as reasons not to be grateful?

Taking It All for Granted

In the gospels, Jesus tells a story about a poor man named Lazarus (Luke 16:19-28). Lazarus was covered with sores, and suffered hunger. He was described as someone who “received bad things in his lifetime” and was contrasted with the rich man,“clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day,” who in his lifetime received his “good things.”

Both men died, and in the story, Lazarus is being comforted and the rich man is in torment. When the rich man begs for Lazarus to come to him, Abraham explains that it is impossible and that a chasm is between those that repent and listen to the scriptures (prophets) and those that don’t, and that it was too late to repent and tell others.

Interestingly, the name Lazarus means "God has helped.” The story doesn’t seem as if God helped Lazarus much while he was alive compared to the rich man. There is also a similarity with the name Lazarus in the account of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, after being accused that he could have prevented his death by coming when he heard the news of his sickness and healing him. (John 11)

“Giving thanks to God is the true acknowledgment of our dependence on everything that he provides, through the gifts he gives us and the people around us.”

Giving thanks shows that we are in debt to someone. There are some that feel that expressing thankfulness is a sign of weakness and not being confident of their own worth. But Scripture is very clear about honoring and giving thanks to God, not to idols or images.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him [emphasis added], but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23)

So, Lazarus the poor man, who received bad things in his life honored God as God and gave thanks to him, while the rich man who received good things in his life didn’t, and never repented for it. Giving thanks to God is the true acknowledgment of our dependence on everything that he provides, through the gifts he gives us and the people around us. Through good and bad, he is worthy to be praised.

- Wendy H.

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