Delight! Take great pleasure in, be joyful over! When I think of being joyful, of being grateful, of taking great pleasure in something, I imagine my son on Christmas morning. He’s 9 months old, and I carry him into the living room. On the floor of my parents’ house in Indiana, toys are arranged on the carpeted floor near the Christmas tree. Santa has come to visit! The joy my son expresses is a squeal. When I put him down on the floor, he kicks his feet happily and claps. Even at 9 months of age, he understands these toys are for him and they bring him great pleasure!
“Delight thou in the Lord; and He shall give to thee the askings of thine heart.”
I wonder if we delight in the Lord in the same manner a child thrills to know Christmas toys belong to him.
I imagine a person rescued from drowning is entirely grateful to the lifeguard. Amidst total panic, the drowning individual is incapable of assisting the lifeguard. During the rescue, the lifeguard knows the total helplessness of the drowning person, although the person drowning does not. He flails, he pulls, he tries to drown the lifeguard — all in a mighty self-effort to survive.
Paul says to us, “[God] has rescued us from the domain of darkness.” Yes, Paul reminds — we are no longer drowning in deep darkness. “And [God has] transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” (Colossians 1:13)
In one mighty motion, God lifts us out of death and plants “us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”
If we are not grateful, then we have failed to fully grasp how quickly drowning occurs, how much we fought the lifeguard, and how utterly lost we were.
“Our thanks are always due to God for you, brothers. It is right that we should thank Him, because your faith increases mightily, and the love you have, each for all and all for each, grows ever greater.”
Notice the attitude of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy towards their brothers in Christ as exhibited here in the beginning of their letter “to the congregation of Thessalonians who belong to God” (2 Thessalonians 1:1). They express gratitude to God for increasing faith and for love shared — “each for all and all for each.” They commend the Thessalonians “because [their] faith remains so steadfast under all [their] persecutions, and all troubles [they] endure.” (2 Thessalonians 1:4)
Paul, Silvanus and Timothy exhort this congregation to “never tire of doing right.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) And they write that “if anyone disobeys our instructions given by letter, mark him well, and have no dealings with him until he is ashamed of himself.” Then Paul clarifies, “I do not mean to treat him as an enemy, but give him friendly advice, as one of the family.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
We are not to treat one another as if we are enemies. For we are not enemies; we are members of the one family — the family of God. Instead, we are to be grateful to God for one another, for our mutual faith and our growing love for each other.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who calls you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
God “calls us out of darkness.” His call is irrevocable. When He calls, He makes us “a people of His possession.” We become “a chosen race.”
“God’s love is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.” (Romans 5: 5) Through the Holy Spirit we become “a holy nation.” And this transformation from darkness to “His marvelous light” occurs “while we are still helpless.” (Romans 5: 6) We are enemies of God when we “are reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5: 10)
If God does this for us “while we are enemies…then how much more, having been reconciled, are we saved by His life!” (Romans 5: 10)
And since we are indeed “saved by His life,” we raise our voices in praise of Christ — to whom we owe everything. Let us be grateful to our God, for He is merciful beyond our imaginings. He “calls [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
“The Lord makes His unfailing love shine forth alike by day and night; His praise on my lips is a prayer to the God of my life.”
God’s love never fails; it shines on us, and from within us, both day and night — twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. God’s love is permanent. His love does not waver, fade, dilly-dally, pout, wander, hurt. His love is pure.
Our praise of Him is our prayer, acceptable to God even as we fail Him. Gratitude is our response. We are grateful for our lives, for His gifts, for His guidance, for our salvation, for His love.
When all else fails us, we know He does not. He is always present, always loving-kind. Open our lips: let us praise the Lord our God.
Our salvation depends not on our will or our exertion, but on God’s willingness to be merciful. If God is not willing to provide us with His mercy, then we are already condemned by our sinful nature, which we recognize as “the fall.”
Without God’s powerful calling, we do not respond to Christ’s sacrifice; rather we run in the opposite direction.
God, the Holy Spirit draws us to Himself. He empowers us with ability to see our sins and to know we need Jesus’ sacrificial death and powerful resurrection so that we might live new lives in God’s grace.
John writes that we “are born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 13)
And the author of Hebrews reminds us that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11: 6)
From whence comes the faith which is required to please God? This faith is a gift which does not come from our parents, nor our friends, nor certainly from our adversary; rather our faith is a gift from God Himself. He gives us this precious faith to believe Him, to know that He exists and to
choose to follow Him.
For our part, we live in gratitude.