• John Davis

Thanksgiving and the Sovereignty of God

There are thousands of reasons for Christians to be thankful. With the help of Deuteronomy chapter 28, I would like to draw your attention to one among them. First, if you can, I would encourage you to take a few minutes and read through this chapter, meditating as you read, then come back and read the rest of this article.


The Lord is about to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land after forty years of wilderness wandering. Before they enter, God speaks through Moses to remind them of their covenant with him. If they keep his commandments and walk in his ways he will bless them, but if they turn aside and follow other gods and forget the Lord he will make life hard for them. Deuteronomy 28 reminds us that the Lord is in charge, and this should lead us to thanksgiving and gratitude.


We should particularly feel this gratitude as we read through the portion of the chapter that lays out God’s curses for disobedience. In verses 38-39 God tells the Israelites that if they do not walk with the Lord, “You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall eat them.” What does this teach us? That God could turn all our hard work to nothing in a moment if he chose to do so.


We do not make ourselves prosper. God does. He could take it all away in an instant. We are continually dependent on his goodness, his blessing, and his sovereignty over his creation. He can take away rain, or sunshine, or health, or brain function, or motor skills, or employment any time he so chooses. We can work harder than we ever have and see no return if he decides to frustrate our labor. He can even take away our ability to be satisfied in the rhythms of the day: “In the morning you shall say, ‘If only it were evening!’ and at evening you shall say, ‘If only it were morning!’ because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see.” (Deuteronomy 28:67)


So let us give thanks to God and meditate on all his goodness to us, especially in ways we have taken for granted. Indeed, we see only the outer fringes of his works and his goodness toward us (Job 26:14). Let us take care not to forget the Lord and his sovereignty over our lives, and so become arrogant and self-dependent. Apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 118:1).