We are children of God filled with gratitude for many blessings.
Psalm 136 starts simply enough, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.” The second part of the verse becomes a refrain throughout the psalm, “His love endures forever.” When I was asked to write about giving thanks, God’s love is first. Jesus Christ and his work of redeeming me is at the top of the list.
But I could not claim Jesus as my Lord or believe in him without the work of the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit who worked faith in my heart that believes in Jesus is also right there at the top of the list.
But I thank God for so much more. I want to take a look back into the Garden of Eden for the next thing on my list: I am thankful for other people.
It was in the garden that God created Adam and allowed him to recognize that he was the only human being. He was alone. I don’t know what that would have been like for Adam. He was in a perfect place with a loving God and he himself was perfect. Yet he noticed something was missing. In the second chapter of Genesis, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God went on to create Eve so that Adam would not be alone.
I am not alone either. I thank God for my Eve and for all the other people who are a part of my life. Yes, I want to give thanks that I am not alone in so many ways. I am thankful for the people whom God has placed in my life.
Parents: The first people I knew were my parents. When God brought Adam and Eve together, he instituted marriage and family. What a wonderful blessing. I want to give thanks to the Lord who gave me parents. Unlike Adam and Eve, we were all blessed with parents. Parents like Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who prayed that God would give her a child. Parents like Mary and Joseph, who, although surprised by the birth of their son, raised Jesus as their special child. Fathers like Jairus, who trusted that Jesus could heal his daughter. Parents who, I pray, do the best that they can as they love us and raise us. Thank God for mothers who carried us in their womb and took care of us when we could not take care of ourselves. Parents who in the best circumstances loved us enough to share the love of God that endures forever with us. Parents who took time for us from the day we were born to make sure we had the best they could give. Parents who let us know that we are part of a family that is larger than the people who reside inside our homes. We are part of God’s great family of believers. I am so thankful for my mom and dad.
Siblings: Families expand, so I give thanks to the Lord for my siblings. Many of us are blessed to have brothers and sisters. Siblings like Joseph, who was able to forgive his brothers for how they treated him. Siblings like Andrew, who went and told his brother Peter when he found the Messiah. I thank God for my brother and sister who helped to shape me into whom I have become (whether they would admit it or not). They were there to help get me in—and out—of trouble. Consider the number of times that you disappointed your parents or as parents when you disappointed your children. Consider the many times siblings unintentionally hurt one another physically or emotionally. If it were not for the ability to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it—to show grace—families would never survive. When I describe grace—forgiveness and support—I am thankful for my brother and sister.
Friends: The Lord continues to grow my circle of people. I give thanks to the Lord for friends who are like family. Friends who risk their lives like Jonathan did for David. You may have met them in the neighborhood, classroom, or workplace. Each of us has that person whom we trust and talk about like family. I am blessed to have friends whom I’ve known since kindergarten who are still part of my life. Despite what I have said or done, those friends have stayed by my side. I’m thankful for the shared experiences that helped to shape me more than I might know. His love endures forever. I am so grateful for friends who love me enough to be honest with me.
Teammates: I am not alone, and I give thanks to the Lord for teammates. Barnabas was a teammate to Paul. Together they journeyed on that first missionary trip and shared the enduring love of God in Jesus. Every ministry effort that I have been blessed to be involved in was a team effort. It may be a husband-and-wife team that holds together as you serve the Lord. It may be a classmate or fellow missionary as you begin a ministry. It may be a faculty or staff member who lifts you up as you teach the future generation. As part of that team you worked hard to achieve a goal, to accomplish a task, or just to get through the difficult times. Teammates encourage you, push you, challenge you, and lift you up.
Teachers: Finally, give thanks to the Lord for teachers. The word teacher is really too generic for those people in our lives who have opened up our minds and shaped our knowledge and behavior. I have learned from teachers who loved their subject. I am grateful for the teachers who have loved me and wanted to see me grow and succeed. Mostly I am grateful for the teachers who love the Lord. They have guided me and so many others.
Psalm 136 reminds us to give thanks for so many things. Take the time to read it and remember all the Lord has given you. But especially remember: His love endures forever.
Author: Aaron Robinson
Volume 107, Number 11
Issue: November 2020