Posted in theology

We don’t need to grope for words when we thank the Lord

By Elizabeth Prata

I watch the History Channel’s program “Alone”. It’s a wilderness survival competition where 10 contestants are dropped in a remote area of the world (Patagonia, Labrador), with ten allowed items of their selection, plus a ton of provided camera gear so they can film their endeavors. Whoever lasts the longest wins money. Contestants have a satellite phone to ‘tap out’ if they so desire. In addition, the producers send doctors every week to perform medical and mental health checks on the contestants. They are involuntarily pulled out of the competition if doctors feel the contestant is in irreversible health danger.

It’s so interesting to see what they decide to do after they’re dropped at their site. It’s like the age old question, what came first, the chicken or the egg, but in survival discussions, it’s ‘what do I do first, food or shelter?’ Should they acquire food while the weather is good? (they’re dropped off in late fall). Or do they build a shelter right away for protection and to keep dry and warm? Both are important. Both can’t be done at the same time.

Inevitably, the contestants have to hunt, trap, forage, or fish for food. A human must eat. They need to replace the calories they expend building a shelter or hunting. They have to maintain their health. Since food is so critically important, when a contestant catches something to eat, naturally they feel grateful.

Here’s where the gratitude of the Christian and the gratitude of the pagan diverges.

The contestant expresses his or her gratitude for the food. But to whom do they express it? They all feel the urge to verbalize gratitude, but to whom do they direct it? ‘Thank you land!’ one contestant says. ‘Thank you universe’, says another. ‘Thank you…/hesitant groping for words/…beaver for giving your life’.

“I hope the land felt the gratitude I have for everything I took from it,” said one contestant.

The land knows nothing. It’s inanimate, unless you count the Bible verse that says even the creation groans under the curse, waiting for the day when it will be released from it. (Romans 8:22).

As Christians aren’t we grateful we know who to thank!

having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:7).

Not only are we grateful we are abundantly grateful. According to Strong’s, that word ‘overflows’ means exceed the ordinary (the necessary), abound, overflow. perisseúō, “all-around” which indicates abundance or surplus) – properly, exceed, go beyond the expected measure, i.e. above and beyond (“more than . . . “); “what goes further (more), surpasses.

And why are we so deeply grateful? Barnes’ Notes on Colossians 2:7 says,

Abounding therein with thanksgiving – Expressing overflowing thanks to God that you have been made acquainted with truths so precious and glorious. If there is any thing for which we ought to be thankful, it is for the knowledge of the great truths respecting our Lord and Saviour.

And what are we grateful for? Gill’s Exposition on Colossians 2:7 says for three great things:

1. for the unspeakable gift of Christ, who is received as such by faith, and in whom believers are rooted and built up;
2. and for faith itself, which is the gift of God;
3. and also for the Gospel, and the truths of it; and for every degree of spiritual light in it, and knowledge of it.

And since we are overflowingly grateful to Jesus for these monumental gifts, aren’t we also grateful for everything under these overarching truths? When we enjoy a meal provided for us, when we buy new clothes, when we worship at church, when we have a good job…all of it. Even when ‘bad’ things happen to us we are grateful since we know He is in control and working it out for our good.

Our regeneration opens us to the majestic truths of the Gospel, our Savior, and our position before Him. We are eternally grateful for all of it, and we are even grateful we know who to thank. We do not need to stumble and grope for words in our praises of thanksgiving. We do not need to thank the creation land or creation’s animals. We thank THE Creator.

Make sure you both thank Him today and cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving. Express it. You and I have much to be thankful for, AND we know to whom to verbalize it.

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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