Saturday, November 05, 2011

Question of the Week- Thank Who?

  A Slice of Infinit

Thank Who?
The four lines of what is commonly known as the Doxology have been sung for more than three hundred years. 
Praise God from whom all blessings flow 
Praise Him all creatures here below 
Praise Him above ye heavenly host 
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
It has been said that the Doxology, which literally means words of glory, has done more to teach the doctrine of the Trinity than all the theological books ever written. To this day, when I sing those powerful lines, I recall the colorful lesson of my first grade Sunday school teacher. With something like cookie dough and bologna magically falling down on the table before us, she read us the story of a God who made the heavens rain bread and quail so that his grumbling people might be satisfied and know that God is God. I was impressed. And when we sung the Doxology at the end of the service, I thought it helpful that I knew a little more of what it means when we sing that God is the God from whom all blessings flow.     
Cornelius Plantinga Jr. once made the pointed comment that it must be an odd feeling to be thankful "to nobody in particular." He was commenting on the odd phenomenon of finding, especially around the American celebration of Thanksgiving, so many people thankful in general. To be thankful "in general" is very strange, he concluded. "It's a little like being married in general."(1) Of course, his words are not dismissing the thought that it is good to give thanks in all general circumstances. Rather, Plantinga raises an important philosophical question. Can one be thankful in general, thankful for the blessings and gifts that flow, without acknowledging from where or from whom they might be flowing?
In what remains a revealing look at human nature, Moses describes life after Egypt. A rescued Israel was a grumbling people sick of manna, wailing for meat, even longing to go back to the land God had miraculously delivered them from. Though their daily bread was literally falling from heaven, they wanted more. In the midst of their discontent, Moses revealed God's promise for meat, but added the wake up call, "You have rejected the Lord, who is among you" (Numbers 11:20).     
To our grumbling prone lips, these words are quite revealing. If being thankful is by nature being aware and appreciative of things beyond ourselves, complaining is refusing to see anything but ourselves. It is refusing to see the one who is among us. Moreover, it is an expression that serves only to affirm our own expectations, whether they are based on faulty visions of reality or not. Certainly the Israelites did not want to go back into captivity, but in their grumbling even slavery began to look inviting. Likewise, the falling bread from heaven ceased to be a remarkable sign of provision from the Father, but remarkably, a sign of monotony and their own dreariness.   
Our complaints are not only a choice to overlook the good around us, but the choice not to ask where or from whom our blessings come. The attitude of thanksgiving, on the other hand, makes the choice to inquire. Being thankful is therefore always more than a glib note of gratitude or a warm sentiment in general; it requires something far more personal. It not only chooses to recognize the gifts before us, but recognizes that there must also be a giver. There is someone to thank. There is indeed one from whom all blessings flow. 
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., "Assurances of the Heart" Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 13.
Copyright (c) 2011 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
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