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In Plenty and In Want, Give Thanks to the Lord

“Beware of the smooth places where you are walking. But if the road is rough, thank God” (Charles Spurgeon).

In Deuteronomy 8:10-18 Moses speaks to the Hebrews before they enter the land of Canaan with words of encouragement and warning. He encourages them to remember the Lord by keeping His commandments, rules and statues. He reminds them that the Lord will bring His blessing upon them as they enter “the good land He has given.” Moses encourages the people to build houses and live in them and to see their flocks and herds multiply. But herein lies the warning. When “your silver and gold are multiplied and all that you have is multiplied,” don’t forget the Lord your God. “Beware, lest you say in your heart, `My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Peace and prosperity are roads upon which all of us wish to travel. But they are roads beset with their own form of danger. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Matthew 7:13). In our humanness we tend to eye those with financial success, luxurious houses and expensive cars with envy. We see their path as smooth and filled with ease and comfort. Those who have attained higher levels of financial success, however, would be the first to admit that their path is filled with many a pothole and sharp, dangerous curves through mountainous terrain. What appears to be a blessing to one person can actually be a curse to another.

That is why the Lord gives us the same warning He gave the Israelites: “Beware, lest you say in your heart, `My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.” Our dependency is upon the Lord. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He owns the hills as well!

As the Apostle Paul reminds us, we are to be content no matter what our circumstances. We can learn the secret of being content when we are brought low and when we abound. “[We] can do all things through [Christ] who gives us strength” (Philippians 4:13). If we eye our fortunes as the result of our might, power and intellect, and we fail to acknowledge the hand of the Lord God Almighty, He will swiftly and severely bring His discipline upon us. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

If, however, you find yourself in a season of misfortune, and you, too, take your eyes off the Lord, you are withdrawing from the very One who will grant you His supernatural strength to endure your current struggle. It all comes down to how we view our lives. Are we “self-made” or “God-made”? If we are self-made, then we will not experience the joy of the Lord in our blessings, and when we fail and find ourselves “un-made,” we will not experience the hand of the Lord bringing comfort in our struggle. Rely upon the Lord. Put your hope and trust in Him. If you are in a season of plenty, give thanks, and fail not to acknowledge His provision. If you are in a season of affliction, give thanks, hard though it may be, for in those moments you will sense a depth of God's love beyond measure.

Spurgeon wrote, “If God always rocked us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always bounced on fortune’s knee; if there were no stains on the alabaster pillar; if there were no clouds in the sky; if there were no bitter drops in the wine of this life; if there were no such things, we would be intoxicated with pleasure. We would dream that `we stand.' And stand we would, but on a pinnacle, like the sailor asleep atop the mast, in jeopardy every moment. We bless God for our afflictions. We thank Him for our changes. We extol His name for loss of property. We feel that if He had not chastened, we would have become too secure and self-confident. Continued prosperity is a fiery trial. Afflictions, though they seem severe, in mercy often are sent."

And so we pray, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, `Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).