Text: Habakkuk 3:17-18
Ice-breaker: How often do you find yourself saying “Thank-you”? What are you thankful for in your life at the moment? Can you imagine being thankful to God no matter what the situation you are facing?
If you dig into the back story of Habakkuk, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a dark book. Israel’s reform-minded king, Josiah, had been killed, and the nation of Israel had slid back into sin and apostasy, turning away from God after they had committed their lives to Him. The prophet Habakkuk struggles with God’s silence and His unwillingness to judge Israel. In Habakkuk’s third chapter, the prophet prays for God to revive His work in Israel. Toward the end of the of the prayer (v. 17-18), Habakkuk recognizes the potential hardships that will come with God’s judgment. Despite those difficulties, he resolves to take joy in God’s salvation. We tend to judge everything from our own limited perspective so unless we have what we believe we should, we see no reason to be thankful. That’s not Habakkuk’s perspective. He tells us to show gratitude even if we don’t have what we want—or even need. Habakkuk’s experience tells us that it’s essential for us to prioritise what God is doing in a situation over our own wants and needs. We can learn from Habakkuk that it is possible for us to rejoice even during troubling times.
It’s easy for us to put our own situation into what Habakkuk writes: Though things are not how I want them to be, though I am sad about…., though I am suffering because……, though there are challenges in my life that are hard to face ……. “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.”
Let’s see what gratitude is and see what effect it has in our lives:
1) Gratitude turns what we have into enough
When is enough, enough in our lives? When will the things that we desire, (perhaps money, a car, more entertainment, new activities) be enough to satisfy us? If we are still waiting for some particular thing to happen, or to come into our lives before we are grateful, we will never understand what it is to be grateful; this is true because, put simply, gratitude is not motivated by things that are exterior to us, but is the fruit of a relationship with Jesus. Gratitude is friendship beyond things; it is to know that God is everything that I need, and that that is enough. It is to be content in the Lord. Ask yourself, when was the last time you were content in the Lord?
2) Gratitude is to worship God. It is to live by “God is enough”
In the 18th-century classic, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law made the following statement:
“Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it. Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it turns all that it touches into happiness.”
3) Gratitude is radically counter cultural and against our flesh
The world teaches us that we always need more – it can be easy to feel that we are lacking something when we listen to those messages, it can cause us to fear that we are missing out on something, but truthfully, the people who transform the world are those who have a counter-cultural view about this and choose instead to be full of gratitude. It goes against our flesh and the world concept, but we need to remember that we are in this world, not of
this world. Which pattern do you want to follow? Yours and the world’s, or God’s?
Would you like to grow in gratitude? Then know the Lord and discover that He is enough. Everything starts with God and leads to the Glory of God; His Grace is sufficient. Let’s pray and put all our effort into being grateful to the One who is worthy of all praise and worship – God.