Read Psalm 116:12
12 What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me? (THE MESSAGE)
When a minister comes to a new church or takes up some new work, he or she will often take time to consider just what the topic or text might be for their first sermon. They want to make a mark, and ensure the address is appropriate for the occasion.
When a man called Richard Johnson preached the very first sermon on Australian soil, he chose the above text. Johnson was a young man, dislocated from his home and family. He was the chaplain to the first settlers in Australia, a rather mixed lot trying to eke out a living in an inhospitable environment.
And yet, Johnson chose this text. He chose to focus on thankfulness, on the goodness of God. There was not a whole lot to inspire gratitude in his situation. Things were against him. Here was no cheery thanksgiving for being in a lovely place with delightful people who were just longing to follow his teaching.
A reminder that we give thanks not because circumstances are good but because God is good. We don’t confine gratitude to times when all is going well; we are grateful always. Not necessarily for what is happening to us, but for the fact that God is good irrespective of whether circumstances are good or otherwise.
Johnson was thankful, though aware of the shortcomings of this place. We might do well to follow his example.