A permeating theme in Thanksgiving hymns is trusting God in sorrow. How? By remembering His sovereignty, trusting His guidance in the battle, and reminding our soul of His promises for the end of the story. This is what the pilgrims practiced, and we must as well, for this life is hard and full of trouble.
If ever there was an urgent time to express thanks, it is in the midst of the battle.
We saw it in last week’s hymn:
I also love the lyric that says,
“But from the beginning the fight we were winning.”
Last week my daughter Sally and I told you the story of her tumultuous first marriage. I wept again to think of all the abuse and pain she endured for five years, and told her so, and she replied:
Aw’ momma. Please don’t be sad! It’s all over now. It was a terrible time, but its all in the rear view mirror and makes me so appreciative of what I have now! It also makes me a better therapist and friend. God brings his biggest blessings through our darkest times, right?
This week we’ll go slowly through the final rich verse of
This is My Father’s World:
These lines are straight from the Word, and can be such a balm to our souls. Look at the last two in particular — right from Isaiah!
If you are one who has trouble finishing, do only Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Share about a hard time that is now in “the rear view mirror” and give thanks for any good that came from it.
Monday: He Speaks To Me Everywhere
Prepare your heart with this from Fernando Ortega:
3. In verse 2, this hymn says: “He shines in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.” How has the Lord spoken to you in the last few days through “all that is fair” or in another way? Share and thank Him.
4. Here is a very short conversation with Fernando Ortega from The World and Everything in It. Listen or read it and share what stands out:
Tuesday: Though the Wrong Seems Oft So Strong
Sing this with a heart to memorize it.
5. Why, when we are betrayed, disappointed, or suffering can we trust God?
6. What do you learn from the following verses that can help you to trust and even to give thanks in hard times?
A. Genesis 50:20
B. Ecclesiastes 3:11
C. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
7. Do any of the above verses bring to mind a situation in the past that turned out for good, or enlarged your compassion and wisdom to help others? If so, share and give thanks.
Wednesday: The Battle is Not Done
When people you love with your whole heart seem to be veering off in a dangerous direction, we must remember the battle is not done. God may work through their unwise choice to refine them. It is so painful for those who love them to watch. Laura sees her daughter living in a car. I watched my daughter go to the depths in her marriage. Sometimes those we dearly love take a path we fear will be dangerous to them and their spiritual life. Though in these cases, the enemy seems to have won, it is only a battle he has won, but not the war. We know the LORD will win the war. So we must not give up or stop praying for them or loving them or think that God cannot bring good out of this. In all three of the above cases, He already is!
Though the enemy feeds our fears, we must speak the truth to our souls. This passage in 2 Chronicles helps me do exactly that, as well as the 4th stanza of “We Gather Together.”
Last week Laura shared how every day she is concerned for her daughter who has gone off in such a dangerous direction. She and her husband are raising that daughter’s children. It’s hard when you are older to have toddlers, but Laura, though her circumstances have not changed, shared that her perspective is helping her have joy and peace. Her church family is there to help, loving them well. She also wrote that these two are her “second chance” for she had an abortion and a miscarriage in her first marriage.
Sing that 4th verse of “This is My Father’s World” without looking at the words.
Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30
4. According to verses 1-4, what was the problem and how did Jehosphaphat approach it?
5. According to verses 5-12, how did Jehosphaphat interwine petition and praise?
6. Now, you try it. Take a problem (an enemy, spiritual or circumstantial) that you are facing and follow Jehosphaphat’s model of 2 Chronicles 20:5-12.
7. Comment on the above verse.
8. What word came to Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah? (verses 13-17)
9. How did Jehoshaphat and all Judah respond? (verses 18-19)
10. The next morning, how did Jehoshaphat encourage the people in verses 20-22? What else did he do? (vs. 20-21)
11. What happened according to verses 22-30?
Thursday: Jesus Who Died Will Be Satisfied!
After all the sad prophecies in Isaiah 53 about the Messiah having to be smitten by God and afflicted, pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, oppressed and afflicted, led like a lamb to the slaughter…comes this beautiful prophecy in verse 11:
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied…my righteous servant will justify many…
Jesus, for all eternity will be satisfied! Tim Keller asks, “Why did He go through all of this? He had everything when He left heaven except us! He wanted a Bride!”
Sing all of the 4th verse of This is My Father’s World by heart.
12. Meditate on Isaiah 53:11 and share why you think Jesus was and is and will be satisfied after His suffering?
13. Write your praises to the Lord, thanking Him specifically for what He endured as described in Isaiah 53, and for what it means to you.
Friday: And Earth and Heaven Be One
14. Sing the 4th verse by heart again. Can you do it?
15. Meditate on Revelation 21:1-5 and give thanks for what you see.
16. Share your thoughts and comments.
17. What lines will you remember best from this great hymn and why?