Do you feel like you are in the wilderness? Are you proclaiming that the “good old days” were better? Many of us long for things to return to “normal,” whatever that means. But maybe the “normal,” that we remember wasn’t so grand if we dissect it properly. When the wilderness gets dark and plain scary, we often long for what we did hold even if that wasn’t so great. It is so easy to spend our time proclaiming complaints when we’re uncomfortable, tired, anxious, or even hungry. We don’t like to be any of those things. But how much are we proclaiming that God is still at work even if we can’t see Him? Proclaiming our thanks to God even when it is difficult to see things to be thankful for can be a struggle. But this is the ultimate display of trust and faith in our Creator.
In the real world, the wilderness often makes it difficult for everyone to experience the abundance of God. The grace of God is for everyone, but the distribution of basic needs doesn’t always appear fair. This is why it is so important for the faith community, the Church, to help others see God’s work and be able to point out His grace. Because even in the wilderness there is grace enough for everyone. But it is difficult to be faithful if you are hungry, sick, cold, or scared which is why the community of faith must come together proclaiming His grace through demonstration of not just sympathy but actions of assistance. For we may just hear our own voices proclaiming complaints in the wilderness.
Proclaiming thanks with, “What is It?”
God revealed His faithful nature to the Israelites in their wilderness. For it is only through God’s mighty deeds that Israel came to live in the Promised land. But on their trip of 40 years, they did a lot of complaint proclaiming. Their memories seem unstable as they forgot the miraculous solutions that God provided for every hardship they encountered. First, it was the sea, but God brought them through it. Then it was the undrinkable water, but again, God provides water that was good to drink. Now, we find the Israelites in a beautiful oasis with springs and trees but proclaiming the complaints of hunger. Once again, however, God provides.
Those who know the story are aware of God’s provisions for the Israelites hunger consisted of Manna and quail. (Exodus 16) This became their sustaining nourishment for their journey. Manna, in Hebrew, translates as, “What is it?” and just like that we, too, can identify with the Israelites and their proclaiming complaints, and questions of the grace of God. Too often, we don’t recognize His offerings in our daily surroundings. Many situations in our lives cause us to proclaim, “What is it?”
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves, “During this pandemic, what are the surprising ways that God is working in not only our communities of faith but in our communities as a whole?” How do we teach ourselves to consistently ask, “What is God doing at this moment, event, opportunity, or even crisis?” It is here we can align our prayers to proclaim thanks for even the tiniest things of life. We can offer prayers of faith knowing that God is working in our lives every day whether we understand or even if we fail to recognize His presence in the situations we face.
Finding Satisfaction through Proclaiming Thanks
Sometimes we find ourselves proclaiming figurative hunger, but we don’t even know what would satisfy us. Too often this is where we give up and give in to both sin and despair that is always right beside us. But we can sustain ourselves by continuing to search through faith knowing that if we move forward in the wilderness, we will find the light of God in the darkness. This faith is our manna, our sustenance for our journey. It is what keeps us going even when it appears there is nowhere to go. This is the time to look around and ask the question, “What is God doing all around us?” This is the question that keeps us moving forward and looking carefully and it is here with each tiny jewel we can proclaim our thanks.
The Israelites often ended crises through proclaiming hymns of thanksgiving. These are our hymns too. When we look to God in trust and know that He has a plan, it keeps us moving through our wilderness and proclaiming our hymns of trust too.
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done.Psalm 105:1 (NLT)
So, what is God doing in our wilderness? It is important to pay attention to what God has done in the past so we can see His actions around us now. But we also must ask, “What is God doing now?” “What is He doing with us, in us, and around us?” These are questions that provide our manna for our personal journeys through the wilderness. Furthermore, it is through proclaiming these questions to the people around us that they, too, can see His handiwork and share in His grace.
Proclaiming Thanks Though Prayer
When the pressures of life come our way, we must resist the temptation to make a quick escape or return to the old “way of life.” Instead, it is during these times that we must focus on God’s power and wisdom to help us deal with our stress while we are proclaiming thanks for His help. God promises to meet our needs just as He did to those before us and so we must learn to trust Him as our Lord. It is in this way we learn to obey by taking small steps of obedience. And it is here we realize that Jesus is our manna, our daily bread that satisfies our eternal and spiritual needs.
Through praying about our problems rather than proclaiming our complaints we can find a variety of solutions. Some problems are solved through careful thought or the rearrangement of our priorities. Other challenges are solved through discussion and good advice offered through others with more knowledge. But many problems are only solved through prayer. So, when we feel compelled to offer a litany of proclaiming complaints, we should make a determined effort to pray. For proclaiming complaints only raises our stress level while praying quiets our thoughts and emotions as it prepares us to listen. When we reach this level, we can proclaim our thanks and praise. God is at work today and as believers, we hold this assurance through Romans 8:28.
Working Together so all may Proclaim Thanks
The season of fall often gives us a push to be more thankful to God as the abundance of harvest comes in. The growing and harvesting season gives all the world a means for caring for our most basic needs. We often give God thanks for the food we eat that many of us find easily obtainable. But we must also give attention to those who don’t have enough and work with our faith communities to help all see what God is doing around them. This helps show how He is providing for their needs through others. When the “church” works together for all, just like the manna God provided, everyone will have enough. It is through this that proclaiming thanks is heard around the world.
Won’t you challenge yourself to be reminded of how God is at work around you and proclaim your thanks to Him? Find your convictions rooted in knowing the answers that God provided in the past. Ask yourself how He may be using your current situation to help bring people to God. Seek your motivation in the question of asking God, “What are you teaching me?” This will help you adjust your focus from the challenges you face back to God giving you renewed energy. Lastly, seek comfort in knowing that God is working all around you whether you see Him or not.
Love in Christ,
Giving thanks IN everything shows a heart of faith that God is bigger than the difficulties and that He can use them, if you approach Him with the right heart and spirit, for your good and His glory.Tony Evans
What are Your Thoughts?
Are you finding it difficult proclaiming thanks in today’s world? Share your thoughts on the solutions found through proclaiming thanks instead of complaints.