February 9, 2014
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us”
(1 Samuel 7:12).
Whatever hardships we may yet have to face, the help of God that has brought us this far is no small thing for which to be thankful. Bogged down as we often are in the painful particulars of daily living, our perspective may be so confined that we suppose the bad outweighs the good. Like Job, we may foolishly wish we’d never been born (Job 3:1-26). We may question whether there is any use in trying to go forward, or whether, if we do try to go forward, there is any possibility that we'll find the help we need. But consider this: the person who is alive to ponder such questions is always a person on whom God has not given up. Without God’s constant grace, we’d not have made it this far.
The Scriptures teach that God is not only the Creator, God is the Sustainer of life. The Hebrew writer says that God “upholds” all things by God’s power (Hebrews 1:3). And Paul reminded the Athenians that it is in God that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If God ever withdrew God’s self from us completely, we would in that instant cease to enjoy anything that deserves to be called “life.” And very likely, in that instant we’d also be stricken with the consciousness of the good we had taken for granted, including the gift of all the time we used up questioning whether God had been good to us. It is, after all, only by God’s grace that we have the “opportunity” to doubt God.
Do we despise the grace that has upheld us? Though we have more than mere survival to be thankful for, can we not see even in this survival evidence that God is willing to help us? God has not only proven God’s power, God has proven God’s patience with us!
A failure of gratitude is one of life's more serious failures, and one that is fraught with danger. Without God’s providence, we’d have been vanquished long ago. If we don’t acknowledge that God has graciously watched over us in the past, we may have to learn the hard way what the diminishing of God’s grace means in the future (Isaiah 5:1-7). But if we will look backward with the eyes of gratitude, we can look forward with the eyes of faith.
“Who brought me hither Will bring me hence; no other guide I seek.”