Lest we forget…to give thanks to God

by | 26 Apr 2024 | 0 comments

Lest we forget…to give thanks to God

by | 26 Apr 2024 | 0 comments

Among the many things to commemorate this ANZAC day, we remember the cost of war and the sacrifice of those who served. We remember those who went to war and those who didn’t return, their willingness to serve, and the importance of standing up to evil and tyranny in our world. We remember the legacy of peace and freedom left to us by those who fought, and in remembering, we give thanks.

Our remembering should not preclude our acknowledging the horror of war and its destructive consequences. Nor do we forget that the causes of war lie not with any one nation, ethnicity or ideology, but are lodged deep in the intractable nature of the human condition, which the Bible calls sin. Yet we remember and honour those who despite these horrors saw it as their duty to take up arms and defend our country, trusting in the righteousness of their cause. We remember, and we give thanks.

But to whom are we to give thanks? The Christian answer, of course, is that we give thanks to God. Yet, here our modern secular culture faces an increasing difficulty. As God is removed to the periphery of our national life, our thanksgiving is left hanging in the air without a proper referent. To whom does a secular society give thanks? Are we to offer thanks to those who are now dead? Are we to congratulate ourselves that we have avoided the mistakes of the past (plot spoiler: we haven’t!)? Are we to turn a healthy expression of patriotism into an insular nationalistic jingoism? Yet every society needs to remember its past, and our human instinct is to give thanks.

It might be that our inability to give thanks is the God-shaped hole at the heart of our modern secular culture. For it is thanksgiving that directs our eyes to God’s providential care of our nation. It is thanksgiving that allows us to recognise our human need for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Thanksgiving to God holds together, on the one hand, the honouring of those who served, with an acknowledgment, on the other, of the human frailties and sinfulness of the past. We thank God that it was through his gracious providence that we now live in peace and freedom, while acknowledging the great debt we owe to those who served and died for our country. Our peace and freedom has been won at a great cost, just as we thank God that through Christ’s costly sacrifice we can, by his grace, finally overcome the sinful consequences of our human condition.

May we continue to remember the sacrifice of those who served, but let us not forget to give thanks to God.

Malcolm Falloon
Author: Malcolm Falloon

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