And you will say in that day:
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.
– Isaiah 12:4
It seems that thankfulness is difficult. Humans are inclined to think about their unmet needs before we think about blessings. That’s probably why we often find ourselves with more prayer requests than praises. This isn’t meant in judgment, but simply a statement of fact. When we have needs, we magnify them in our minds until they have consumed our thinking. It’s also possible that those needs might be dire indeed, and it’s especially difficult to be thankful in those circumstances.
The Kingdom of Judah was in a dire situation at the time of the prophet Isaiah. From outside they were threatened by enemies, even their own kin in the northern Kingdom of Israel. From within they were threatened by ungodly kings who would eventually take them down the road to destruction. But here in chapter 12, Isaiah takes a moment to express thanks.
His reasons help us in the times when thankfulness eludes us. First of all, in verse 1 he celebrates that the anger of the Lord had turned away. This is an extraordinary statement! At one time or another, we have all angered God, and it is remarkable to think that in His anger he still sees fit to love us. Even after the people of God were sent into exile, God continued to display His love for them. Such love is truly a cause for thankfulness!
The second reason Isaiah gives comes in verse 3, where he uses the phrase “the wells of salvation.” What a beautiful image! In a dry place like the Middle East, wells are of the utmost importance. They are a constant source of nourishment and life. We experience God’s salvation in a moment, but it continues to speak into our spirits over and over. One thinks of the Samaritan woman in John 4, who heard from Jesus about water that would cure thirst forever. God’s salvation is not just for us in one moment, for a constant source of transformation.
Finally, the idea of continuing to draw from a well to me conjures an image of a cup of water overflowing. If you are in public when you fill a cup to overflowing, it is likely that someone will notice. In a similar way, in verse 4 Isaiah admonishes us to “make known His deeds among the nations!” Our thankfulness is not for our own health. It is so that a broken world can see the blessings of God demonstrated in the people of God. When we reflect on all of the good things God has done for us, the only response…is to give thanks!