‘Tis the season of Thanksgiving, and getting past the holiday that glories in death and darkness is a good thing. Frankly, I don’t get Halloween, as far as Christians are concerned. I know that professing Christians, concerned about the ghoulishness of the celebration, try to clean it up with alternative costumes and such, but I think we’re better off to emphasize the Protestant Reformation and leave the celebration of Halloween to those who remain in spiritual darkness. After all, Martin Luther posted what became the catalyst for the Reformation, his Ninety-Five Theses [Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences], on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. But enough about that.
With November comes the emphasis upon harvest and blessing. Even in our increasingly secular culture, there is a fairly pervasive consciousness that recognizes a divine reason for our prosperity.
God has indeed greatly blessed humanity with common grace, blessings that fall upon the redeemed and the unredeemed alike. Jesus makes that point when illustrating why his followers should do good to their enemies: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).
It is one thing to acknowledge such blessings and another actually to go to God directly with grateful hearts. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “A friend said to me on Wednesday, when the sun was shining, ‘We ought to be grateful for this fine weather.’ I replied, ‘I go farther than that—I am grateful for it!’”
Christians, to be sure, recognize that we are recipients of common grace. We are thankful to God for our families, our employment, our material blessings, and the sunshine and the rain. These are gifts from God, and we should be the first to acknowledge them.
Followers of Christ, though, experience God’s special grace, those blessings that fall upon only the redeemed. Thomas Watson [1620-1686] observed: “He (God) gives them three jewels more worth than heaven—the blood of his Son, the grace of his Spirit, and the light of his countenance.” Above all people, believers wonder at God’s grace. Having been steeped in rebellion and deserving of his wrath, we revel in his mercy and grace.
Admittedly, blessings are sometimes not readily seen. The onset of persecution or poverty or sickness may be the blessing of a kind and gentle God who seeks for us to experience spiritual prosperity. Peter writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3-7).
Whatever comes our way, may we thank our good and sovereign God for it.