HOW NOT TO THANK GOD
"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High" - Ps 92:1. Paul in his letter to the Thesalonians enjoins us to "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1Thes. 5:18). God delights in our appreciation of all His goodness, mercies, loving kindness, provision, protection etc.
But how should this be done and how should it not be done?
I have noticed over the years that we (especially in this part of the globe) love to compare ourselves with others a lot. Even in our prayers, we either want to be like someone either in the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, David, Paul, etc but not like Christ anyway) or in our contemporary time. Most times our prayer is targeted at being better than someone either in our family or place of work or somewhere else. These are prayed at all cost and using all prayer strategies we know. We will not forget to add fasting of various versions.
This same mentality is what we carry into thanking God for whatever He has done for us. In fact, if we have not done the comparison, we don't feel we have thanked God enough.
These are some of the lines of our Thanksgiving:
When we wake up in the morning, either in individual morning prayer or family prayer, you will hear: "God we thank you for waking us up this morning". The next thing you will hear is "some other people slept like we slept yesterday, but they could not wake up this morning. Some slept, but they woke up to find themselves in the hospital. God we/I thank you that these did not happen to us/me". You will then hear: "We are not mocking those that these happened to oo, we are just appreciating you". Funny enough, those who are in the hospital too will also pray and compare their case with some other people who are also hospitalised but whose cases are worst than their own case.
Brethren, we do preach that heaven is better than this world. We preach that heaven is our home, we are just strangers hear. This world is just like a market and once a person is done in the market, he would go home. We preach that Christians don't die; they only sleep. Now, a Christian who slept yesterday and did not wake up today becomes unfortunate to us. Is that not why we thank God we woke up, because some couldn't wake up? But if he travels to America over the night, we will rather thank God for him for traveling to America, but because he travels to heaven, he becomes a pitiable person. Between America and heaven, which one is the best? I guess we have not truly comprehended what being with the Lord really is.
A Christian woman who put to bed safely will thank God that "she did not put to bed through "Cesarean Section (CS)" like some other people. Up till now, we still see Cesarean Section (CS) as a curse. We see it as evil which should not happen to any serious Christian. In fact, many Christian women have ignorantly lost their lives because they refused to be "sectioned". Why? Their pastors have painted CS as a curse or a spiritual attack (the work of witches).
When it comes to the issue of our children, it is still the same compare and contrast method. We will thank God because our children are brighter (brilliant) than other kids.
We will also thank God because we travel and come back safely. This is very good, but we will not simply stop there. We will add our usual compare and contrast anthem. We would say, some travel but they could not return home. Some of them had accident, some of them were kidnapped, some ended up in the shrine of the ritualists etc.
Most of the thanksgiving songs we composed are around this compare and contrast mentality. Most of these songs exclude some Christians who are passing through some situations. They could not sing some of these songs because the songs are against their situation. Those songs would rather add to their grieves than giving them courage and consolation in the Lord.
I hope you remember our popular song in nursery and primary school when we want to eat: "Some have food, but cannot eat. Some can eat, but have no food. We have food and we can eat. Glory be to you o Lord".
I think I heard a story (if my memory serves me correctly) of a woman who lost her husband. Few weeks after, she was in a church and the pastor was leading a thanksgiving prayer and said to the congregation "This mornings we are going to thank God for our husbands, wives and children because many have lost their husbands, many lost their wives and many have lost their children. Raise up your voice and thank God that you didn't loose any of such". And you know how high our emotional tempo always go when such prayers are raised. What do you think would happen to this sorrowful woman who should have received comfort and consolation in the presence of the Lord among the people of God. Her grief would increase of course!
Some churches would thank God that since their inception till date, they have not lost any of there members and they will add "like some other churches". Some churches would thank God because no couple is barren among them (in their church) like in some other churches.
Many couples would even go as far as thanking God they are not barren like some other people. It is good to thank God you are not barren, but must you add to it that some are barren?
Beloved, if we want to thank God, why can't we just thank Him for whatever He has done for us and stop. Must we compare and contrast? We don't know why what happened to those we are comparing ourselves with happened. In fact, if God should show us why He allowed what happened to them and what He has in plan for them, we would wish it were us.
These our attitude has really injured many the more instead of helping them. We have made some to look at God as if He is partial. We have made some to doubt God's goodness and faithfulness.
To cap it up, most of our thanksgiving are about physical and material things. I wish every believer would do a quality study of the thanksgiving and prayer patterns in the New Testament (from Acts of the Apostles through the Epistles) and compare with our own thanksgiving and prayer patterns today.
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