“If we will only think, we shall begin to thank.”
For Charles Spurgeon, life was to be lived coram Deo, “in the presence of God.” Indeed, Spurgeon believed that “no joy is like the joy of Christ’s presence with his people.” A presence sweet enough to “[drown] every note of sorrow” and tune every heart “to the loudest notes of thankfulness.”
Spurgeon believed it was “a heavenly thing to be thankful.” After all, it was gratitude which “ought to teach us the divine object of grace.” Accordingly, he longed for his heart to burn with the “sacred flame of thankfulness.”
For the world being happy was a prerequisite to being grateful, but Spurgeon knew that “God’s people are always happy when they are grateful” to Him. In fact, Spurgeon was so certain he said, “We should be ten times more full of bliss if we were proportionately more full of thankfulness.”
For Spurgeon, living with thankfulness was an all-encompassing commitment. Whether for richer or for poorer, even in sickness and in health. Indeed, he would often remind his congregation that “you have received all you have from God the Father through Christ.” This truth made every enjoyment an avenue for God glorifying gratitude.
Thus, in all “our eating, our drinking,” and “social meetings” Spurgeon claimed “we should give thanks unto God the Father.” The same “Father of Lights” from whom all blessings did, and do, indeed flow.
But gracious gratitude was not to be limited by the circumstances of this life. To make his point Spurgeon reminded his congregation of the story of a poor “godly preacher,” who one evening could only offer his children a dinner consisting of “a potato and a herring.” Nonetheless, the preacher “thanked God that he had ransacked sea and land to find food for his children.” Truly, the God who fed the sparrows and the ravens would not forget his people.
Indeed, while God’s temporal provision was a sweet blessing, his eternal provision of salvation through Jesus Christ was beyond comparison. Even after pastoring for many years, Spurgeon still marveled that “God should condescend to make a covenant with man, and ordain faith in Jesus as the great way of obtaining reconciliation.”
Spurgeon believed that the substitutionary, penal, atoning death of Christ on the cross provided Christians cause for “daily adoration and hourly thankfulness.” In Spurgeon’s view, “since Jesus has loved us so well,” it was impossible not to “give to him all that we are, and all that we have.” As a result, Spurgeon challenged his church to “let your gratitude compel you to do everything for Jesus.”
There is much in life for which to be thankful. Family, friends, food, and the changing color of the fall leaves are sweet gifts to be savoured and enjoyed. But, the best gift to be thankful for is Jesus Christ. This Thanksgiving Spurgeon would have us contemplate Christ and let Christ “flood the whole of [our] faculties” with thankfulness.
From all of us at The Spurgeon Library, Blessed Thanksgiving!
Director of The Spurgeon Library
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.