Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thought on Thanksgiving from the Early Church

I thought it would be appropriate today to share a brief thought on thanksgiving from the early Christian teacher John Chrysostom (347-407). The following comes from one of his homilies on the book of Ephesians. Unfortunately it is a sentiment that would be difficult to find in many of our churches today.

“What then? Are we to give thanks for everything that befalls us? Yes; be it even disease, be it even penury [extreme poverty].  … Yes, even though thou know not the word, give thanks. For this is thanksgiving. But if thou give thanks when thou art in comfort and in affluence, in success and in prosperity, there is nothing great, nothing wonderful in that. What is required is, for a man to give thanks when he is in afflictions, in anguish, in discouragements. Utter no word in preference to this, “Lord, I thank thee.” And why do I speak of the afflictions of this world? It is our duty to give God thanks, even for hell itself, for the torments and punishments of the next world. For surely it is a thing beneficial to those who attend to it, when the dread of hell is laid like a bridle on our hearts. Let us therefore give thanks not only for blessings which we see, but also for those which we see not, and for those which we receive against our will. For many are the blessings He bestows upon us, without our desire, without our knowledge.”

We are to give thanks despite whatever worldly afflictions we face. This is not because we follow some sort of stoic submission where we seek to be indifferent to suffering. No, it is rather because no matter what we face here we can be confident in the goodness of our God who has done immeasurably much for us in His gift of Christ. We know that the sufferings of this current time are nothing to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Happy Thanksgiving 

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