Thanksgiving Devotion Nov 26
Written by: Keith Butcher
Scripture: Psalm 147 & Romans 8:35, 37
Sometimes I don’t understand myself. I know that I should feel gratitude on this day, yet I am overcome with the suffering this year has delivered. How hard it is to give thanks in times of great pain and suffering. And yet, I am reminded of the German minister and hymn writer, Martin Rinkart. Upon singing the beautiful words of his hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” one would never know the suffering of 1637.
Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices;
Who from his mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
Martin Rinkart was a pastor in the village of Eilenberg. Because it was a walled city, many Germans overcrowded the city seeking safety from the death and destruction of the Thirty Year’s War. And then, the deadly plague of 1637 swept through the town, bringing sickness, famine and death. At times Rinkart was the only living minister in the city, and he sometimes performed as many as forty to fifty funerals a day.
Yet, astonishingly, Rinkart continued to praise God, writing more than 66 hymns of praise during this period. Not even able to provide food and clothing for themselves, invading armies would sometimes demand tribute payment from the village. Once, when a Swedish commander ordered a steep price from the city and refused to settle for less, Rinkart implored his fellow citizens to drop to their knees, thanking God and singing hymns of praise. So moved by the experience was the Swedish commander that he reconsidered his demands of the tribute payment.
The German influence on Protestant church music is remarkable. Rinkart’s hymn is second only to Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in popularity among German churches. If Martin Rinkart could craft such meaningful praise in the middle of the war and significant sickness, then I, too, can express my gratitude to God for “His countless gifts of love.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father,
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 heav’n adore
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.