Thanksgiving Stirs God’s Heart

Luke 5.8
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Reflection: Thanksgiving Stirs God’s Heart
By John Tillman

When Simon (not yet called Peter) saw what Christ had done for him and his partners, he skipped right over being thankful to being fearful. “Go away from me! I’m not worthy. I don’t understand! You don’t know how sinful I am!”

Simon didn’t yet understand the heart of Jesus. He didn’t understand that he came for the sinful, that he was seeking that which was lost, and that Simon himself would be changed and would become, Peter, the rock.

But whatever happened in this moment, he was changed enough at heart to follow when Jesus asked. This passage from Luke resounds with thankfulness from those touched by Christ.

Richard Foster writes in his book Prayer, that seeing the heart of God is the key that opens the door to thankfulness in our hearts.

If we could only see the heart of the Father, we would be drawn into praise and thanksgiving more often. It is easy for us to think that God is so majestic and so highly exalted that our adoration makes no difference to him. To be sure, the self-sufficiency of God is a precious doctrine, but we should always remember that words of Saint Augustine: “God thirsts to be thirsted after.”

Our God is not made of stone. His heart is the most sensitive and tender of all. No act goes unnoticed, no matter how insignificant or small. A cup of cold water is enough to put tears in the eyes of God.

Foster goes on to list many who, with simple acts of thanksgiving, touched the heart of Christ. When we act in thanksgiving, acknowledging the gifts of God’s Spirit to us, it connects us to Christ and marks us as his children carrying on his work in this world. Foster continues:

And what about us? Dare we hold back? It brings joy to the heart of God when we grip that pierced hand and say simply and profoundly, “Thank you, bless you, praise you.!”

And if we cannot grasp his hand in thankfulness, we can grasp the hand of our enemies in love.
And if we cannot provide him a place to lay his head, we can work that others might have one.
And if we cannot anoint his head and feet, we can anoint those who suffer in this world.
And if we cannot weep on his feet, we can weep with those who weep.

For what we do to the least of these, we do unto Him.
And what we would do for One, by His power, we may do for all.

Prayer: The Small Verse
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.  — Isaiah 9.1

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Obadiah 1 (Listen – 3:28)
Luke 5 (Listen – 5:04)

Additional Reading
Read More about Thankful Workers for Peace :: Worldwide Prayer
May we be as miraculously transformed as the Gerasene man, and as thankful as he, running to the cities with the life-changing message of the gospel.

Read More about Thanksgiving in Times of Trial
The first Christians were thankful in suffering because their focus rested not on the storm around them, but on the solid rock of Christ.

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Three Pictures of Christ

[Jesus said,] “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” — Luke 5.4

“Master,” Peter replied, “we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” The other masters of the world lorded their power over people like Simon Peter; he was a mere fisherman, dependent on what he pulled from the water for his well-being.

Christ revealed himself as a master worth following—a master who provided for the needs of the day while calling Peter to a life of sacrifice, service, and meaning beyond what he would have achieved on his own.

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” — Luke 5.20

There were many then, and now, that Christ would not stand in front of to touch and heal, so in his healing he drew attention to something greater. Jesus taught it is sin that is our deepest and most debilitating pain. In healing pride and brokenness—which have paralyzed our true nature—Jesus shows himself as the true Lord and Healer.

Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” — Luke 5.31-32

Tax collectors were notoriously corrupt. Eating at Levi’s table is the equivalent of sipping wine from Bernie Madoff’s cellar—it’s offensive to even think of an upright person partaking in the fruit of corruption. Jesus wasn’t there to enjoy exquisite food and drink, he was there to give himself as a friend.

Jesus befriends outcasts to his own detriment—sacrificing reputation as the elite scorn him and offering his life as the proud reject him. Jesus is the living example that there is no greater love than a man laying down his life, even while we are yet sinners.

[Jesus said,] “And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” —Luke 5.39

Instead of unapproachable power, Simon Peter found blessing. Instead of a God removed from the pain of life, the sick found intimacy and healing. Instead of judgment that precluded relationship, Levi found sacrifice that allowed for embrace.

Christ shows himself as our greatest provider, the solution to our deepest problem, and loving friend who lays down all to live in relationship with us.

Today’s Reading
Obadiah 1 (Listen – 3:28)
Luke 5 (Listen – 5:04)