- Eldon Peterson
Giving Thanks In Plenty and Want
Updated: Feb 23
An acquaintance of mine recently suggested that it would be good to have a community praise service to thank God for the abundant snow that we have received. I appreciated his prompting, and while I'm not certain how to facilitate such a meeting, it got me thinking about the appropriateness of us giving God thanks for the provision of the life-giving snow and rain that we have had the last couple of months.
Such praise should be natural for as Psalms 147 says, "How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! He is the one who covers the sky with clouds. He determines rain for the earth. He makes grass sprout on the mountains." (1, 8) However, while it is natural to praise God in times of abundance, we must realize that He also deserves our praise during the seasons of drought.
Giving God thanks in times of plenty without remembering to give Him thanks in times of want will leave us out of balance. Being out of balance in the reasons for our praise will open the door to believing a common lie that God only sends the rains to those with whom He is pleased. Assuming this lie cheapens the blessing of the rain making it more of a wage than a gift. This shift in thinking can also lead us to only give God thanks when He blesses us with the things that we want.
Believing that God only looks upon us favorably when we please Him in prayer or deed, suggests that we do not believe in an omnibenevolent God. In other words, we are failing to believe that God is absolutely good and that there is no action or motive or thought or feeling, or anything else about Him that is not purely good. The truth is that the God of the Bible is "all-good"; He is omnibenevolent.
While human beings can do many good things, only God is omnibenevolent, or wholly good. If this were not true, if He is only good to those who please Him, then He is no different from us! But God is not only wholly good, He is wholly different from us. The Bible reveals that God is the Creator and Ruler of all; He is the Self-existent One who is perfect in power, goodness, and wisdom. All of this brings us back to the importance of the fact that God is perfectly good all the time.
We might wonder, "If God is perfectly good, then why is the world in such a mess?" But of course, this assumes that our world's troubles are due to the lack of God's presence at worse and His impotence at best. We've reasoned that God rewards the good and punishes the wicked! However, if this were true, it would be in opposition to our claim that God is omnibenevolent.
The thought that God is good only to those who are good contradicts Jesus' explanation of God's love and mercy concerning the rains, "For [your Father] gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike." (Matthew 5:45) This is not only seen in the mercy that God shows in sending the rains but in our salvation too, "But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
How does our love compare to God's? If we are honest, there is no comparison. We are likely to only love those who are kind to us. If this is true, then Jesus has some words for us, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that." (Luke 6:32–33)
What does this have to do with giving God thanks for the abundance of snow that we have received this winter? It has everything to do with it. Realizing that God is worthy of praise in the good times and the bad allows us to give Him unbridled praise. We can praise Him for the gift that was not based on our deservingness but one that flows out of His goodness. May we sing His praises not only in the times when He sends the rains (and snow) but also for the sustaining love He shows us even in times of drought.