The Medical Missionary, vol. 18

The Medical Missionary, Vol. 18


January 13, 1909

“Thanks for All Things,” The Medical Missionary 18, 2.


E. J. Waggoner

“Be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; ... giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20. MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.1

Most people, even professed Christians, would think this rather a hard matter. We are familiar with the exhortation, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” and are, able to adjust ourselves to it. Of course we can in everything give thanks that things are no worse than they are; for no one except Christ has drank of the dregs of the cup of suffering. We may have learned how, even in the deepest of afflictions and severest trials, to thank God for the promise of his presence and salvation; but to give thanks always for all things, is a lesson that is not usually learned until one has passed through many experiences of bitter trial. MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.2

In the scripture just quoted there are two admonitions. One is, not to be drunken with wine; the other is to give thanks always for all things; and while the first seems the easier, the second is no less a Christian duty, or privilege. “All things” is a term admitting no exceptions. Passing by the comforts and easily recognised blessings which are commonly named as calling for thanksgiving, we have hardships, which are, equally with the others, included in the “all things” for which thanks is to be given to God. Loss of property, or poverty on account of inability to obtain employment, calls for thanksgiving to God. For that which is infinitely more crushing,-loss of friends,-we must give thanks. Are we misunderstood, maligned, even persecuted!-for this cause also we must thank God. Even for the bonds of “affliction and iron” and the darkness and shadow of death that come down upon us as the result of our own folly and transgression, we are always to give thanks to God. MEDM January 13, 1909, page 39.3

How can we do it?-Only by knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” It can not be done as a matter of duty, for thanksgiving must be as spontaneous as the songs of the birds. Real thanksgiving comes from a heart so full of a sense of gratitude that the most natural and the only thing to do is to express it. MEDM January 13, 1909, page 40.1

In order to thank God for trials and afflictions, we must know that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” What if we can trace our trouble to our own transgressions! Chastisement from a loving parent (and, “God is love”) is not a token of anger. And we must never forget that whoever or whatever may be the means of our affliction, it comes from God. If it is the means of teaching us obedience, is it not a valid reason for thanksgiving! MEDM January 13, 1909, page 40.2

Suppose we can not see any reason why we are afflicted? Job could not for a long time; but the end demonstrated “that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” Hezekiah had served God “in truth and with a perfect heart,” and yet when he was left to himself he revealed things in his heart of which he was ignorant; but God knew them. The same was the case with Job, and affliction was necessary to make him know himself so as to abhor himself, and to know God as he could not know him in the time the time of unbroken prosperity. “Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed”-does not disappoint us, and therefore we can “glory in tribulations also.” MEDM January 13, 1909, page 40.3

It may seem to us that the tribulations are altogether out of proportion to that which was lacking. For instance, Job was already “perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil,”-why should he need to suffer so much? Simply because the lesson could not be learned with less. When John Wesley was a child, his father said to his mother, “Why do you tell that boy the same thing twenty times?” And the answer was, “Because nineteen times isn’t sufficient for him to remember it.” God desires that we should be “perfect and entire, wanting in nothing,” and when we know that only “divers temptations” can accomplish this result, we shall count them “all joy,” and give thanks for every one that brings us into closer communication with our loving Father. MEDM January 13, 1909, page 40.4

Afflictions are necessary to fit us for service. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation [even though our transgressions have brought them upon us], that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Unthankfulness is that which transformed men who once knew God into heathen (Romans 1:21-23), and thankfulness for all things the recognition of God in all things,-will change a heathen into a Christian. How essential, then, that they whose lifework is to make known “the God of all comfort” to the heathen should have learned this lesson, in which one never can be proficient without undergoing suffering. And how foolish to complain or to be discouraged over that which in God’s hands can work nothing but good. MEDM January 13, 1909, page 40.5

“Then welcome each rebuff
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand, but go.”
MEDM January 13, 1909, page 40.6