Now thank we all our God

We live in anxious times. As coronavirus spreads across the world, we may have many reasons to worry; concern for elderly relatives, financial uncertainty, the emptying of supermarket shelves. And this is hardly helped by a 24/7 news cycle providing minute-by-minute updates.

This is not the first time the world has faced a pandemic. These things have been with us since the Fall. In the 21st Century, many of us in the West are shielded from large-scale natural disasters. This can make it all the more frightening when we are confronted with something like COVID-19. As Christians, how we respond is of huge significance.

Martin Rinkart, a Christian pastor who faced a deadly plague in the 17th Century with enormous personal courage, reminds us that we can give thanks in all circumstances.

Give thanks in all circumstances

Rinkart (1586-1649) was a Lutheran minister in Germany who opened his home to those who were suffering despite struggling to make ends meet himself.

In 1637, with the country ravaged by the plague, Rinkart was conducting up to 50 funerals a day – around 4000 that year. Tragically, he also lost his beloved wife to the disease.

Through it all, he was a prolific hymn writer. And around the time of this great loss he is said to have penned the words to Nun Danket, or as we know it, Now thank we all our God:

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
in Whom this world rejoices

Rinkart rightly understood that gratitude is the perfect antidote to anxiety. He understood that our Creator God cares for us. He knows us by name, counts the number of hairs on our head, and is working out his will in our lives and in his world.

Today, let’s follow Rinkart’s example by cultivating a culture of thanksgiving during this crisis.

We can give thanks for the medical and healthcare professionals who sacrificially put the needs of others before their own. We can give thanks for those loving their neighbour by delivering groceries or collecting prescriptions. And we can especially give thanks that the strong desire to protect life is a sign that God’s common grace is active in the uppermost reaches of Government.

Whatever we face in the coming weeks and months, we know that God is sovereign and good, and for that we can all give thanks.