“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5.18)
As we in the national office of the EPC have been very focused on those suffering from recent disasters in New York City and Indianapolis, I’ve thought repeatedly about a most remarkable hymn we sing at Thanksgiving, “Now Thank We All Our God.”
“Now Thank We All Our God” (“Nun Danket Alle Gott”) was written by Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor serving in Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Germany was the “battleground” for much of this conflict. The high point of the suffering he ministered into was 1637. That plague struck Eilenburg that year; it was not unusual for Rinkart to hold forty to fifty funerals a day. Among those he buried was his wife.
In the midst of this constant grief and suffering, Rinkart drew inspiration and comfort from I Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
He wrote the words that became a great hymn of the church:
“Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
“O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
“All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”
May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as you live in God’s will for you!