Last night around 8pm we went out for a walk with our retriever Pepper. a bit of a strange experience in two respects, nothing to do with the dog. While walking up towards the main road there wasn’t one about, no-one walking, no-one driving. Silence! When we reached the Upper Newtownards Road we met a young couple pushing a pram, and about 5 or 6 metres behind them another person likewise giving her dog a walk. As they passed on the footpath we walked in the middle of the bus lane. No buses coming fortunately! Coronavirus or a bus, life’s full of dangers, but it felt a bit like the Levite in the Good Samaritan parable.... passing by on the other side. We are having to think in new ways and I think, discovering what is essential in life and what we can learn to do without. Of course we miss an evening out or the cinema, or the football leagues, but the present health emergency has shown who the real heroes in society are and it’s not the footballers with their exorbitant wages or actors and their fame but the NHS workers and health professionals, the delivery drivers and shop assistants those who day in and day out do their work without fanfare; the services we enjoy and never notice.
Last night on the news a report on the effects of the Coronavirus in France ended by showing the residents of one apartment complex coming onto their balconies or appearing at their windows to applaud and cheer health care workers. This morning I heard that Smooth Radio is calling people in the UK to do the same at 8pm tomorrow night. I wonder how long we will be thankful for or if, when things improve we will forget again.
Ingratitude or forgetfulness is something we’re warned about in the bible, and that is why perhaps we hear consistently the same call as Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever”. Paul takes the same line in writing to the Christians in Colossae as we discovered yesterday. After encouraging them to live or walk in Christ, to be rooted as they grow deeper into him, and anchored securely in the faith, he urges that they should be built up in him, so to produce the framework for a life that honour’s Christ and gives strength and purpose to their daily walk. All of this is from God and by his instigation and working. Then he writes verse 7, “...and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Thankfulness ought to be the mark of the Christian, it is what people should see in us as those who trust in Christ. Not simply saying thank you to people who serve us which is good to do. No, it’s more than good manners, it’s a thankfulness to God who has filled our lives and blessed us with all good things, and given us every spiritual blessing in Christ. And when the cup is full it overflows as when the life of the Christian is filled with the fullness of Christ and the goodness of God it overflows in thankfulness and praise. About this the commentator Dick Lucas writes..... “It sees no merit in man’s receiving but only in God’s giving. It marvels at his mercy. It is the language of joy. It is the expression of dependence on another. It is the speech of the Psalmist and the natural tongue of the apostles. It is also heard on the lips of the weakest Christian on his knees.”
So today get on your knees and bless God, or if you can’t manage the knees bit, do the rest it’s the most important part. The psalmist adds and I’ll end with this..... “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” Ps116:12-13. Maybe a true expression of thankfulness is to be like a spiritual Oliver Twist. “Please Lord, can I have some more?”