“Thanks” Series—Post by Michael Stephens

CC BY-NC, Jason-Morrison, Flickr
(See where the tree grows!)
CC BY-NC, Jason-Morrison, Flickr

This post is the fourth in this week’s “Thanks” series that features quotes on thankfulness given by notable Christians. Today I reflect on the following quote by British author and intellectual C.S. Lewis.

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

These words make me think of others I’ve spoken—“Why complain when you can be thankful?” I’m a million light-years from Lewis’s brilliance, but I think together we’re onto something here: life is chockfull of occasions to show gratitude.

Eco sustainability teaches the principle of zero waste in nature. No matter the debris or pollution, nature eventually recycles it into use again. Our lives possess that same characteristic because we have every chance to turn all our good and bad instances into moments of gratitude to the Lord. Lewis draws us into the heart of this concept and, in simple fashion, explains why it can be so.

For the Good and the Bad

“If it is good, because it is good,” Lewis says—not merely that we have everything we could wish for, which is nice, but also for the essential goodness that has entered our lives. The adopted boy taken out of the system has drastically more to be thankful for than the fineness of the clothes, toys, food, and vacations he now enjoys. Instead his deepest gratitude springs from one thing: his being chosen.

Lewis continues: “if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” If you hear Lewis saying we ought to be thankful for bad fortune, you’re hearing incorrectly. We cannot be thankful for disease and violence and poverty and destruction, all things that break God’s heart. But we can be thankful because they are catalysts.

Misfortune offers us a chance to develop in our lives virtue that we might otherwise never experience; and that virtue grants the Lord more control in us and with us. This is spiritual wealth that glorifies God and that, in some unknown way, accrues and awaits us in the life to come.

Moreover, what Lewis conveys of bad fortune rings resoundingly with hope: we should take trouble itself as a cue that better lies just ahead of us. Whether in this life or the next, our present experience is dissolving into something astonishingly wonderful.

God’s Design for Us

Thus, complaints have little hope of thriving when we grasp that every moment is a chance to be grateful to God. The apostle Paul trumps Lewis and me when he says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18). The will of God is his desire and design for our lives; Paul identifies part of it as a life brimming with gratitude.

On this Thanksgiving Day we raise a toast in praise to the God who has entangled our lives in an intricate win-win situation. His grace makes our good sweeter and helps us transform our misfortune into wealth. He is the author of all good and the Eternal Victor over every dark power. May he who is our every advantage be glorified this Thanksgiving and we remain always grateful.

The “Thanks” Series

CC BY-NC, restlesswaynex, Flickr
CC BY-NC, restlesswaynex, Flickr

The ‘Mike’ is observing Thanksgiving week with the “Thanks” Series, articles of reflection written by four guest contributors. Each writer will share his thoughts on an inspirational quote about thankfulness by a notable Christian. I’d like to introduce you to my guests.

Stephen Chan is the writer of Faith Comes from Hearing. I enjoy Stephen’s very Bible-centered, matter-of-fact way about living for God. Stephen is strong in the word and his writing is valuable Bible study. He will share reflections on a quote made by 14th century German theologian Eckhart Meister: “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Chris Hendrix is the writer of Devotions by Chris. Passion for God and honesty characterize Chris’s writing, which also strives to encourage those who have experienced hardship in life. Chris will share reflections on a quote by 19th century American theologian Albert Barnes: “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

Kevin Daniel is the writer of The Number Kevin. If you enjoy humor mixed in with your faith, then you’ll appreciate Kevin and his crafty and offbeat writing style. But he’s no lightweight. He writes insightfully and speaks up on the matters that need to be heard. Kevin will share reflections on a quote by early 20th century thinker and apologist G.K. Chesterton: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before I open a book, and before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, dancing and before I dip the pen in the ink.”

Mel Wild is the writer of In My Father’s House. Grace and intimacy with God are themes that strongly characterize Mel’s writing, which I find refreshing and spurring one toward godliness. Mel is a pastor and a long walk with God and experience in ministry inform his articles. He will share reflections on a quote by 20th century pastor A.W. Tozer: “Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”

I will share reflections on a quote by 20th century apologist and intellectual C.S. Lewis: “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

I hope you’ll return each day this week to read what these writers have to share on thankfulness, in their lives and in general.

Have a blessed and…Happy Thanksgiving.