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FIRST-PERSON: Giving thanks is just beginning


When the world rocks back and forth from disaster to war to tragedy, people tend to think about the end times, and I am one of them. Christians yearn for Jesus to return and set the world right, bringing deliverance to some and justice to others.

It is biblical to long for such events. Jesus refers to a “day of judgment” in both Matthew 11:24 and again in the following chapter. Paul refers to a “day of wrath” in Romans 2:5 and a “day of salvation and redemption” in other epistles.

The Scriptures are full of references to “the day in all its fullness – judgment and redemption.”

Thanksgiving will be present on the day

Old Testament prophets often viewed the future as one looking at distant hills or mountains. They could see that there were sets of hazy mountains on the horizon but couldn’t decipher the order in which they would arrive on the pilgrim’s journey. Those slow-approaching mountains represent the coming events the prophet could see.

If my grandfather were with us, he’d pull out his prophecy charts and begin to help me decipher Isaiah 10-12, three chapters filled with judgment and redemption.

In the age of redemption when the Messiah fully reigns, we will see, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

As for the wicked on that day, there is no hope of escape. In fact, Isaiah prophesies, “Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 10:4)

It is quite a scene as we see God restore His people and punish evildoers. There is a range of reaction, such as joy, sorrow and satisfaction as Isaiah looks out across the mountains of time to see that God is going to set things right and deliver those who love Him.

There in the middle is the Messiah – the root of Jesse – who is filled with wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He is the judge and redeemer. He is the uniter and the divider.

Those who turn to him are filled with thanksgiving.

On “the day,” those who give thanks will say, “…for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.” (Isaiah 12:1)

There will not be innocent people who stand before him and give thanks. Only those who realize and receive His redemption.

Giving thanks is the right and natural response when you realize the blessings you have received. Even more when you realize you have not deserved the blessings you have received.

A truly grateful heart gives thanks.

So why not start today?

I must admit my heart is not always grateful. I can be filled with fear, frustration, despair and complaint.

Even in the midst of knowing “my redemption draws near” and that “all things will be made new” I can still be ungrateful and discouraged.

Still, there is great reason to give thanks now. There are glimmers of what is to come on display in the world today as God works His plan. We need only to slow down and look for them.

We can find joy and give thanks, resting in the Gospel, reminded that these present sufferings are temporary and the birth pains of the day that is coming.

Let us rejoice in the hope of giving thanks to Jesus in the days ahead, yet let us not lose an opportunity to practice gratitude today.

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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