Thankfulness In Creation
“The contemplation of God’s goodness in his creation will lead us to thankfulness and trust.” ~Calvin
Nature, or creation, is pretty amazing! To think back to Genesis 1 and contemplate what happens from “…God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void…” to him creating light (and with that, day and night), separating waters, calling forth dry land, and then filling his creation with good living things is unfathomable.
Fast-forward to our lifetime and many of us can experience great variety in what nature provides—from fields to hills to mountains to streams and rivers to lakes and oceans to forests; among these, the changing of the seasons, colorful fall leaves, the plentiful crops that have grown from tiny seeds and produced food for nourishment. It’s not just “pretty amazing,” it’s marvelous!
It's not surprising then that people are drawn from marveling and celebrating to even praising and worshiping nature. That’s not a joke. When we attribute what should be viewed as belonging to and coming from God to “Mother Nature,” we’re robbing God of honor. When we attribute the patterns of a day, a week, a month, a season, a year just to “natural processes” and forget that it's God who has ordered such things, we credit the creation over the Creator. When enjoyment of landscapes or outdoor activities are our only pursuits, and not in proper relation to God, something else has become the object of our worship and purpose of our lives. We see this play out in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:18-25
We are to live in a proper balance with the rest of creation—remembering we’re part of all this, which reveals God’s majesty! John Calvin writes, “...Let us not be ashamed to take pious delight in the works of God open and manifest in this most beautiful theater. For...although it is not the chief evidence for faith, yet it is the first evidence in the order of nature, to be mindful that wherever we cast our eyes, all things they meet are works of God, and at the same time to ponder with pious meditation to what end God created them” (1.14.20).
What we call nature, space, and mountains—the beauty we find in crystal blue waters and in the fall colors of a hilly, tree-filled landscape all point us back to the One who created it. This is all incredible and can sometimes cause us to feel speechless, but as we read in God’s Word, we should approach these things with the following type of reverence and praise:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens…When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet... Psalm 8:1, 4-6
While WE are part of God’s creation, HE has given us a special place in and calling over it. We are to be constantly giving up praise to God for this gift of creation. We are to be about the business of directing the world's attention to the goodness of the creator. Thankfulness and trust in God are the natural responses to beholding His works.
Calvin concludes, “…Whenever we call God the Creator of heaven and earth, let us at the same time bear in mind that the dispensation of all those things which he has made is in his own hand and power and that we are indeed his children, whom he has received into his faithful protection to nourish and educate. We are therefore to await the fullness of all good things from him alone and to trust completely that he will never leave us destitute of what we need for salvation, and to hang our hopes on none but him! We are therefore, also, to petition him for whatever we desire; and we are to recognize as a blessing from him, and thankfully to acknowledge, every benefit that falls to our share. So, invited by the great sweetness of his beneficence and goodness, let us study to love and serve him with all our heart” (1.14.22).
As you pause to give thanks in the week ahead with a designated holiday, remember to give thanks regularly to the God of all creation. Remember these words as you strive to that end:
…the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his…Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:3-5
For further study