Christian Thankfulness

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” —Colossians 2:6,7

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH, is a national Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The observance of a day of thanksgiving each year in the United States originated with the early settlers of New England, many of whom had made the hazardous journey across the Atlantic to the shores of the new world in order to escape the bitter religious persecutions then being practiced in many parts of Europe. Not only was the journey itself undertaken at risk; the securing of necessary food, clothing, and shelter after arrival was equally uncertain, and made the more so by the hostile attitude of the Indians who felt that their domain was being invaded.

It seemed especially appropriate, under the circumstances, when the year’s crops had been harvested and it was evident that sufficient provisions had been supplied by the Lord to enable them to survive the coming winter, that they devote a day of special thanksgiving to God for taking such wonderful care of them. Many and great changes have occurred since those early settlers conceived the idea of Thanksgiving Day, but the custom continues, and with it sufficient weight of influence to cause millions, at least this once a year, to remember that there is a God in heaven to whom we owe our very existence, and who, day by day, makes provision for our needs. For this itself we can be truly thankful!

Those who have devoted their lives to the doing of God’s will, and have accepted Christ as their Leader and Head, consider every day one of thanksgiving. To these, every experience of life, whether it be of joy or sorrow, is an occasion for thanksgiving, for they know that they are constantly overshadowed by the Lord’s loving providences, all of which are designed by him for their highest and eternal good. They thank God not only for the sunshine and the rain, but also for the sorrow and the pain. Indeed, they have discovered that under Divine guidance the deepest shades of sorrow often yield the richest fruitage of peace and joy in the Lord.


There is something about sorrow and trials which elicits a greater degree of thankfulness than is often true with respect to the pleasantries of life. This is especially so in the case of Christians, some of whom have been bedridden for years, and having suffered untold agonies, are often more appreciative of Divine grace than those whom the Lord permits to serve him under more normal circumstances. Perhaps their experiences have caused them to depend more fully upon the Lord, and thus they have lived closer to him, being ever conscious of their need of his help.

Many of God’s servants in the past, particularly those whom the Lord used to write the Bible, were men who endured much hardship, yet their hearts seemed always filled with thankfulness for the blessings that God daily showered upon them. This was true of the great Apostle Paul. Few followers of the Master have suffered more than did Paul, yet there is no word of complaint in all his writings. Besides, his suffering was brought about almost altogether by his faithfulness in serving the Lord. This was in keeping with the message the Lord instructed Ananias to give to Paul at the time of his conversion. Tell him, the Lord said, “I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”—Acts 9:16

Paul accepted this commission, and zealously devoted himself to a course of faithfulness in the service of the Lord which brought upon him an almost continuous impact of suffering and trial, sometimes sufficiently crushing to well nigh snuff out his life. Yet he continued unwaveringly in the narrow way of sacrifice and suffering, and with a heart filled with thankfulness in his assurance that these “light” afflictions which are but for a “moment” were working out for him “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—II Cor. 4:17

It was Paul’s faithfulness to the Divine call to suffer and die with Christ that led to his imprisonment in Rome, where the exhortation to thankfulness contained in our text was written. His whole epistle to the church at Colosse breathes the spirit of love and thankfulness to the Lord for the riches of Divine grace which had been bestowed upon him. When writing a letter under these circumstances, one would think that Paul would make considerable mention of his trying experiences as a prisoner in Rome. But Paul lived above his circumstances. Only once, and in almost the last words of his letter, does he mention his position, and even then he simply says, “Remember my bonds.”—Col. 4:18


Paul was more concerned over the spiritual welfare of the brethren at Colosse than with his own trials. He had never visited these brethren, and was not therefore acquainted with them personally. Nevertheless he loved them, and wrote that from the very day he had heard of their faith in Christ, and their love for all the saints, he had continued to pray for them. His desire was that they might be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”—Col. 1:9

He also desired and prayed that they “might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (vs. 10) Besides, he wanted them to be “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”—vss. 11-13

It is the selflessness of Paul, represented in his desires on behalf of the brethren at Colosse, that helps to give weight to his words. His own spirit of thankfulness is reflected by the fact that he admonishes those to whom he writes that they should give thanks to God for having delivered them from the power of darkness and for shining into their hearts by the knowledge of the Gospel.

Paul knew it was his faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ that had taken him to prison in Rome. One with less faith and vision might have reasoned that however true the Gospel might be, it was not worth what it had cost. Paul, however, had such full assurance of faith, and understood so well all the implications of the truth, that he could look back over the years and recall his experiences of suffering, yet praise the way the Lord had led him.


Paul desired also that the brethren at Colosse remain steadfast in the truth. Failure properly to appreciate the truth of the Gospel is one of the major contributing causes of instability in the truth. This was true in Paul’s day, and it is still true today. If we truly appreciate the truth and daily give thanks to God for it, we will not be restlessly seeking something new and fanciful to take its place.

The history of the professed followers of the Master throughout the age has been to a large extent one of apostasy, of falling away from the faith. Paul foretold that this would be so. In his letter to the Thessalonians, he warned that after his death there would come a great falling away from the faith. This occurred, and so completely that the Dark Ages were the result. Coming down to the Protestant movement, each reformer made a bold stand for truth as he understood it, but these new concepts of truth were not steadfastly upheld by their followers.

The same test is now upon the Lord’s people with respect to the harvest truth. While we all want to grow in grace and in knowledge, one of the tests upon us is to remain steadfast in what we have already learned to be the truth. Thankfulness for the Lord’s goodness in revealing to us the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven is essential to steadfastness. Are we truly thankful for the truth, or has it become a commonplace thing in our lives? Have we forgotten the darkness from which we have been delivered, and the ‘pit’ from which we were ‘digged’?

David speaks of this ‘pit’ as being ‘horrible’, or, as the Marginal Translation states it, a pit of “noise.” (Ps. 40:2) Noise is used in the Scriptures to symbolize confusion, and the confusion of our hearts and minds, and the confusion with which we were surrounded in the world before we learned the truth, was very ‘horrible’ indeed. In this pit also was ‘miry clay’. We had no firm foundation upon which to stand. But the Lord lifted us up from this plight and set our ‘feet upon a rock’. Instead of the ‘miry clay’ and sinking sand of human imperfection which failed to give us a proper standing before the Lord, our feet were placed upon the sure foundation of Christ and the “ransom for all.”—I Tim. 2:6

The psalmist states, the Lord also “established” our “goings.” (Ps. 40:2) In the pit of confusion, we had no definite objective in life, and at times there seemed no real purpose in living. We were aimlessly drifting along with the world, and as the hymn so aptly expresses it, “All that my soul has tried left but an aching void.” (Hymns of Dawn, Jesus Is Mine, #47) But when the Lord ‘inclined’ unto us, and lifted us out of our confusion, he also revealed to us a real objective, and a ‘way’ in which to walk in order that we might attain that objective.

The Lord established our ‘goings’. We started to walk in the narrow way, and to run “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) A hope was set before us. Paul speaks of it as a “hope which is laid up … in heaven,” based upon the “Word of the truth of the Gospel.” (Col. 1:5) No longer is life confusing and uncertain. Our ‘goings’ are ‘established’, or as Paul states it in our text, we are ‘stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving’.

If we are established, our thanksgiving is sure to abound. Conversely, if we cease to be thankful for the wonderful things the Lord has done in lifting us out of the ‘pit of noise’ and setting our feet upon a rock, there will be a danger of our falling away from the faith. David explains that when the Lord established our ‘goings’ he put a ‘new song’ in our mouths, ‘even praise unto our God’. This ‘new song’ was given to us in order that we might show forth the praises of our God, hence the importance of continuing to sing it, that his name may be glorified.


This ‘new song’ is undoubtedly the truth of the Divine plan, or ‘present truth’, as we often call it. It is referred to in Revelation 14:3, and the explanation given that no man could learn it except the “hundred and forty and four thousand.” This is in keeping with many texts of the Bible which emphasize that the human mind is incapable, aside from Divine grace, of understanding the “mysteries of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:10) David declares that the Lord puts this song in our mouths. It is God-given, through the inspirational powers of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be discovered or learned by just anyone who may, for curiosity’s sake, desire to pry into the secrets of the Divine plan.

If we have learned this ‘song’, there is surely much cause for ‘abounding with thanksgiving’, for it means that the great God of the universe has taken us into his confidence and revealed to us some of the hidden things of his glorious plan of the ages. Thereby he has dispelled the darkness with which we were surrounded, and brought us out of our confusion. The many unanswered questions, which at times almost resulted in the loss of our faith in the existence of God, have been clarified. Now, through the Word, we see his glory as it is made up by his infinite wisdom, almighty power, unswerving justice, and abounding love.

Truly the Lord has put a ‘new song’ in our mouths. It is a song which grows more melodious as we continue to sing it to one another, and as we have opportunity, to all mankind. While it is a ‘new’ song, at the same time it is also “the old, old story” which, as the poet states, “seems each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.” (“The Old, Old Story,” Hymns of Dawn, #116) Has this been our experience during the past year? Is this ‘song’ more precious to us today than it was a year ago? Are we more established in the truth now than in former days? If so, then we should be the most thankful people in all the world.

Our individual experiences throughout the past year have in many instances been quite different, but the same loving God has been watching over all his people. His “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14), under Divine guidance, have been causing ‘all things’ to work together for our good. (Rom. 8:28) We may not always have been able to recognize the wisdom of God’s dealings with us, but have been assured that always ‘behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face’. In the light of his countenance we will continue to rejoice.

For the brethren as a whole, the past year has been one of rich blessings through fellowship in their local meetings, at conventions, and in their united opportunities of singing the ‘new song’.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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