Giving Thanks for Community

by Pastor Anthony Pranno

The well-known minister H.A. Ironside had an interesting experience in a crowded restaurant. Just as he was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited him to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.”

The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!”

Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”

Suffice it to say that the person who doesn’t think he or she has something for which to be thankful hasn’t ever given the matter much consideration. In Psalm 107 the psalmist observes the providential care of God toward people in a universal sense. He is the King not only of the believers, but the King of Kings. He is not only the God of Israel, but the God of all nations… of the whole earth.

The psalmist begins the psalm… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. This is the thesis statement of the entire psalm and serves as an introduction to those who will read or sing it. In looking over the psalm, we surmise that the first thing the psalmist thanks God for is community.

In this section, the psalmist addresses the people of God who have been scattered to the four corners of the known world:

  • Some were in Babylonian captivity
  • Some were refugees in Egypt and Ethiopia
  • Some were expatriates in Greece and Italy
  • Some were wandering aimlessly, like sheep without a shepherd, hungry and thirsty in the desert.

When this group of scattered believers were at their end, God grabbed hold of them: from the east, west, north and south, from Babylon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece and Italy, from the desert wastelands, from hunger and thirst… It was his idea to bring them together.

What was true then is true today. God is in the business of gathering his people together because he knows they are stronger together than they are as individuals. Paul paints a clear picture of this in his words to the Philippians:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

If we unite (as churches, denominations, believers, Christians), then we will stand stronger against our enemies, be able to defend what is right and moral and good, find safety, provision, and refuge.

  • Perhaps you feel lost.
  • Perhaps you aren’t sure which way to go or which group of people to call your people.
  • Perhaps you have been alienated by your family, a group of friends, or people at work.
  • Perhaps you feel hungry or thirsty for truth or righteousness, or meaning in life.
  • Perhaps you are hiding out, just waiting for something or someone to change your life.

God wants you to find community in a group of people who love and honor him. At the same time, if God has met your needs and gathered you together with others who can love you with the love of Christ, you must truly be thankful.

Pastor Anthony

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