In the mid-1630s, there lived a man named Martin Rinkart. He was a pastor who had moved to Eilenburg, Saxony right at the beginning of the Thirty Years War. His walled city became a refuge for many people from that conflict, which led to plague and famine over many long years. During the very worst of the pestilence, Rinkart found himself doing as many as fifty funerals in a single day – totaling over 4,000 in the year 1637, which included his own beloved wife.
In the end, as the dust settled, the smoke cleared, and the sun began to shine on them again, this wise pastor knew that his people would need to heal from that overwhelming and extraordinary time. So he penned these remarkable words: Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, who wondrousthings has done, in whom the world rejoices; who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
We usually pull this classic hymn out around Thanksgiving, though we often do not discuss its origins. And yet, after the last two years, it is perhaps the most profound and appropriate hymn that we can sing. It is quite easy to give thanks to God when things are going well, even though we usually forget if we’re honest about it. Yet it is even more important for us to give thanks to God when the going gets rough.
Scripture actually instructs us to do this – not because we should revel in pain or because God is trying to hurt us (that would actually be pretty messed up, by the way). No, we are instructed to give thanks to God in all things because we know that God is here, working among us. Because when life gets messy, we remember that ours is a God who intentionally took on flesh to live in the mess with us. And because, at the end of the day, we know that if the storm is still raging around us – then God’s work in our midst is not finished yet.
So do give thanks to God at all times because we are a resurrection people who will continue to rise and rise again from the ashes of whatever craziness the world throws our way. God is here. God is working. And one day, all will be well.
Blessings, Pastor Janie