We live in a world full of pain and struggle and conflict. How’s that for stating the obvious? Our news stories are filled with statements of hate and actions of rage. We have so many people passionate about so many things that conflict is ongoing and inevitable. While passion and commitment are commendable, hateful dismissal of those on the other side of an issue brings no real victory.
As we watch what is happening in Ukraine, as we see political leaders across the globe calling for peace in the Middle East, as Americans see hatred seeping into seemingly every cultural issue, people live constantly on edge. Fear and hurt and resentment and alienation… these are the byproducts of constant conflict. It is sadly predictable that hatred surrounds us.
Bible readers who study prophecy and pay attention to current events know that scripture promises that the days preceding the arrival of Messiah will be painful. Jesus, my Savior, declared in Matthew 24:7, “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” Stated even more succinctly by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1, “in the last days difficult times will come.”
What should people of faith do? How should lovers of God react? Will anger overtake us? If we believe strongly in certain causes, should we get angry and spew hatred on the opposing side? Or will we try to pretend that the fights are not happening, and the venom is not spewing?
How can we love God and lead faithful, humble lives amid the turmoil? What is the remedy for all the hatred? As we witness the wickedness of hatred, may we choose instead the beauty of thankfulness.
To that end, I suggest that we follow some sage advice from an unlikely source. American actor Denzel Washington is credited with this statement… “Give thanks for blessings every day. Every day. Embrace gratitude. Encourage others. It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time.”
Did you know that the Tanakh (Old Testament) not only calls on people of faith to be thankful, but it also calls on them to share that feeling of gratitude with others?
Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples.
1 Chronicles 16:8
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Then say, “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us and deliver us from the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name, and glory in Your praise.”
1 Chronicles 16:34-35
So, for today at least, may the people who love God choose to follow Denzel’s advice. During these turbulent days, let’s ponder Denzel’s mantra. “It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time.”
For what are you thankful today? Do you have a loving family? Do you have your health? Do you have a community of faith encouraging you to grow spiritually? Do you have friends to walk with you during difficult days? Do you have faith to know that a righteous God rules the world?
Do you, or could you, begin your day by expressing thankfulness in this way?
.מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים, שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה; רבה אמונתך
Modeh Ani L’fanecha Melech Chai V’kayam Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati B’chemla Raba Emunatecha
I offer thanks to You, Eternal One, for lovingly restoring my soul to me; Your faithfulness is great.
Stated differently and yet eloquently by an unknown writer… “What if you only had tomorrow what you thanked God for today?” In answering that question, what would I have tomorrow? What would you find when you woke up?
As we intentionally eschew hatred and pursue thankfulness, let’s seek the wisdom of God’s Word. Let’s search for the keys to thankfulness in the words of the eternally gracious God.
For followers of Jesus, the New Testament is full of reminders that people whose hearts have been changed by the Lord’s grace should be people who are consistently thankful.
“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It is no surprise that Tehillim (Book of Psalms), humanity’s ultimate prayer book, contains countless statements of thanksgiving. May the words of the Lord sink into our souls and may the declarations of these faithful ancient believers become our testimonies.
I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.
I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I am guessing you watch the news and feel frustrated by the actions or inactions of others. I assume you struggle with the temptations to hate. Maybe you don’t feel hatred personally but notice it pervading our culture.
If so, will you join me today? Can we work on this societal problem together? Are you ready to ask God to help us so that the thankfulness will overtake the hatred?
Remember what Denzel said… “It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time.”
Rev. Trey Graham is a pastor, writer and radio host in Texas who leads tours of Christian pilgrims to study the Bible in Israel. He serves with multiple organizations across Israel, helping build friendships between Christians and Jews. Learn more at www.IsraelByTheBook.com and www.TreyGraham.com.