I have noticed this anthem repeated through the pages of the Old Testament, the words of praise mentioned over and over. “Give thanks to The Lord, for his love endures forever”.
This was the battle cry of the people of Judah under King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20). A massive army of the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites were on their way, bent on war. The people of Judah knew their numbers were tiny in comparison, the reality was certain defeat. Jehoshaphat knew there was no where else to turn but to The Lord. “We do not know what to do,” he prayed, “but our eyes are on You”.
It was to be the Lord’s battle. Instead of the best fighting men and the strongest weapons, the people sent out an army of worshipers to lead the way into battle. The praise on their lips was this, “Give thanks to The Lord, for his love endures forever”. Give thanks? Celebrating God’s love in the face of death? And God came, He destroyed the enemy and His name and fame spread throughout the nations.
This week we walked the streets of the red light district, past countless bars and clubs and customers, feeling physically the weight of the darkness and oppression. I didn’t even know how to pray, how to fight the battle of the Enemy’s hold on this area. So, I took up the battle cry of the people of Judah, “Give thanks to The Lord, for his love endures forever”, whispering these words over and over. “You are holy and righteous, You will gain the victory here”. Give thanks: God’s armor, His weapons, His light shining in the most impossible places. 13 months (almost) of time in this city, friends and open doors. God’s judgment, His discipline, refining and gentle correction. The water of the Holy Spirit that washes and transforms. The cool breeze and gently falling rain that made our walk more pleasant.
This doesn’t seem like a particularly strategic battle plan, does it? But our thanksgiving takes our eyes off ourselves, our problems and the impossibility and focuses us on the Victorious Savior, the One who is able to change hearts and cities and whole people groups for His glory. And it will be His glory that shines here, His praise that echoes forth from the lips of His people.