Dear Father, a few things for which I give thanks:
I give thanks that you are Sovereign: that not one subatomic particle in this universe can disobey your sovereign decree, that no man can take down what you have set up or set up what you take down, that whatsoever comes to pass is in your control.
I give thanks that your Son came to dwell in flesh among us: that he sacrificed himself to save us, that he rose again from the grave, ascended into heaven, and sits at your right hand until all His enemies are made His footstool.
I give thanks that our salvation is given to us by grace, through faith, and that you give us even the faith by which we believe.
I give thanks that you gave us your law, now administered in our hearts, and saved us for the purpose of good works that you have already ordained that we should do.
I give thanks for the means of grace, for baptism into His body, and His table by which He feeds our faith and renews our covenant with Him.
I give thanks for sanctifying forces in our lives: the Holy Spirit, and those million means through which He speaks to us. I am thankful for repentance, and the slow pains that accompany the mortification of sin, humility, patience, hope, peace, mercy, kindness, joy, and self-control—slow pains that come from the long war of my pride, cynicism, rage, harshness, meanness, anger, and self-will.
I give thanks that you have already glorified your saints; that you will complete this reality when we are perfected in your presence, and that we shall spend eternity with you in your perfected heaven and earth in which only righteousness exists, where there are no tears or pain, no sickness, and no death.
I give thanks for my family: that you are sovereign here, and that we live to show your sovereignty as we love and trust in you.
I give thanks for a wife who above all loves Christ and honors your Law, who sacrifices to do what is right, who supports and helps my callings, who seeks knowledge from your Word and from the wisdom of others; who has courage, including the courage required of a sanctifying presence, and the strength to exercise it every day, over and again. I give thanks for her kindnesses, encouragements, compliments, laughs, smiles, jokes, warmth, love. I give thanks for her countless hours and troubles in teaching our children at home.
I give thanks for those other special sanctifying forces in my life—my children. I give thanks for all I learn from them every day while being a special and crucial guide for them. I give thanks for their special mixture of resilience and fragility. I see in them your gifts of all kinds—goodness, mercy, kindness, joy, and even patience when I have none. I see in them the forms of my own depravity which they have learned . . . from me. I give thanks for their smiles, their tears, their pains, their joys and triumphs, math papers and paper airplanes, and I give thanks that I learn more about you as I learn of them and learn of myself through them.
I give thanks that your Word directs our family: our love, our work, our trust, our path, our hope. Your Word inspires and directs our efforts, saves us from folly and wasted time, and gives bounds to our passions.
I give thanks as my family grows: I see them learn your Law and your creation and grow together yet in their own ways—many individuals, many members, growing as one toward one goal of holiness and godliness, a kind of Trinitarian way. I give thanks for the joys and smiles, the difficulties and challenges. I give thanks that you use growing little ones to help us grow, and use imperfect grown-ups to raise godly little ones—using the foolish things to confound the wise, and foolish wise ones to help make foolish ones wise.
I give thanks as I watch families of faithful children fill holiday unions and dinners—two, three, four generations. I rejoice as I watch young men take over the roles and jobs of their fathers and mentors. It is your grace extending to a thousand generations.
I give thanks for a powerful church body. I give thanks as it returns praise and thanksgiving for our sovereign God, recognizing your hand in every prayer, song, praise, and Word.
I give thanks for a Body that receives a wretch like us, that says “We do” every time a child is baptized, and vows together with new members to love the Body and study its purity and peace. I give thanks even if there is only one who makes that vow honestly, but rejoice that there are hundreds, thousands, millions.
I give thanks for elders who accept courageous callings, bear great gifts, and show deep experience. I give thanks for their leadership, humility, discipline, and direction in life. I give thanks for their genuine, serious, love. I give thanks that they speak truth in pulpits and in private. I give thanks for the godly change they bring in family and life.
I give thanks for the service of deacons: selfless men who serve through trenches, torts, latrines, and all times. I give thanks for their nameless, thankless gifts, their time and troubles, overshadowed by the named ones, degreed ones, seen ones, and sermoneers. These are the shadow of Christ and His sacrifice extending healing to the nations.
I give thanks for your Word proclaimed—in pulpits, Sunday Schools, cell groups, youth groups, parachurch ministries, visitations, weddings, funerals, and every major or minor function of our church in whatever role. I give thanks just to have a Bible in our midst, and to have your Law read and preached for the truth it is.
I give thanks for church courts, church trials, and the due process upon which they must hinge. I give thanks that you have declared that even the least of these should have the ear of justice—even the busiest of judges in our Body. I give thanks for the courts and the justice which they may, in God’s grace, rain down.
I give thanks that you have promised this church Body will indeed prevail—you have established your Body on the rock of faith and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Your Body shall, eventually, burst the gates of hell itself and overcome the enemy. You promised this power to Christ Himself, and no other institution has ever shared in this promise except for the body of Christ—and for this we give thanks!
I give thanks that the civil magistrate (policemen, county commissioners, city council members, probate officers, state assemblymen, judges at all levels, state representatives and senators, and even the president) are YOUR servants and are held accountable to your Law and your will. I give thanks that you are sovereign over them all and that they are called to bow and submit to you and your will. I give thanks that they are bound by the limits of your law and must not institute laws that break yours.
I give thanks that all executives from the President to policemen will be held accountable to your Law—not merely man’s laws, but your higher standards of justice as well. I give thanks that all legislators who make laws apart from your Laws will stand before you as well, and many will see the folly of their departures in time, space, and fortunes lost. I give thanks that some judges in our courts today still remember you, and stand with great courage against the tide of unbelief that seems to rule the day—in your providence! I give thanks for those who still rule and decide according to your standard of righteousness and goodness, who punish evil that is truly evil and protect good that is truly, innocently good.
I give thanks for your Son, upon whose shoulder all governments rest. Of the increase of his government there shall be no end. Your law shall flow forth from Zion, the nations shall flow unto it. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and peace shall rule this earth. I give thanks for that hope; and I give thanks for every small hope and every small chance to give thanks along the way.
Give us, Father, greater capacity, greater occasion, and greater strength to return greater and more frequent praise to you, in all things, in all places, at all times.
In the name of your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.