Humble: Open God’s gates and give thanks

Published 9:42 am Friday, November 23, 2018

Judy, a good friend of our family, recently celebrated her 80th birthday.

As long as we have known her, Judy has been one of the most vibrant, joyful people we know. She often says the key to life is to “thank God for everything.” And she does. Her life is a big, big challenge to me.

Judy’s life has not been an easy one. At a young age she became a widow and was left with four children who she worked to support.

About 17 years ago, Judy’s sister, the wife of a missionary in Europe, fell and became quadriplegic for the remaining 12 years of her life. During those years, Judy would go live in Europe for three months at a time, with brief trips home for rest, in order to care for her sister and to serve her brother-in-law, whose ministry required providing hospitality for many civil leaders in the European Parliament and in the European nations.

Now, in her later years, Judy is dealing with memory loss that has required her to stop driving and to depend on others for many things.

Since childhood, as trained by her mother, Judy has practiced having gratitude and giving thanks for every situation she faces. It’s her way of life.

For a few years, her grandson lived with her, and he observed, “I always know when something has gone wrong because I hear you giving thanks to God — even for a thing like dropping a plate and breaking it on the floor.”

Judy’s practice has been effective. Her attitude and demeanor contrasts greatly with that of many who become grumpy and hard to be around in later years.

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving day is great. What about every day?

How much better would our society be if all God’s people trusted in his goodness fully enough to always give thanks, refusing to take up the spirit of anger and discontent so characteristic these days?

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:20)

“…let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:15-16)

The gates into God’s presence are opened to those who give thanks and praise: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalms 100:4)

Scripture anticipates a day when creation itself will erupt in praise to God, the mountains and hills breaking into song, the trees and rivers clapping their hands. (Isaiah 55:12-13; Isaiah 44:23; Psalms 89:8.

We who know God through Jesus, the first-fruits of that new creation, are privileged to announce the ultimate victory with thanksgiving and praise.

May our lives and our words be expressions of joy-filled worship to our creator and king.

Steve Humble is an elder of Winchester Covenant Church and is the author of “For Such a Time as This? One Man’s Spiritual Journey.” He can be reached at (859) 771-7138 or at steve.g.humble@gmail.com.