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Martin Rinckart was a pastor in Eilenburg, Germany for the duration of the Thirty Years’ War, i.e. 1618-1648. During these years he stood by his congregation and helped them to the bitter end in all their misery. Soldiers lived in his house and often his food supplies and household goods were plundered. At the start of 1637, the year of the Great Plague, there were four pastors. But one departed and two died. Being the only one left, Rinckart often had to bury 40 to 50 people daily, 4 480 in all. In May that year his wife also died. The Plague was followed by a famine so bad that 30 to 40 people would often fight in a street over a dead cat.

Rinckart is best known for the song “Nun danket alle Gott“. In 1647 it was translated into English as “Now thank we all our God”. In Afrikaans it is the song: “Kom, dank nou almal God.” All the songs written by Rinckart are  about unlimited faith in God, and praises and gratitude towards God.

God doesn’t promise a smooth existence at all times. But Paul writes: In everything be thankful (1 Thess. 5:18). Note that this text doesn’t say that we must be thankful for everything, but in everything. God didn’t expect Rinckart to thank God for his wife’s death. But in the war, in his wife’s death, in the Plague, in the famine, Rinckart received God’s grace to be thankful always and to be able to sing “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices.  O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; and keep us still in grace, and guide us when perplexed; and free us from all ills.”

God promises that He will always be with us, also in all our problems and our pain. He said: “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you” (Heb. 13:5). No tear that we shed escapes God’s notice. After his arrest by the Philistines, David writes: You have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? (Ps. 56:8).

 

Thank you, Lord, that we can know that You love us and are with us always, that we can thank You in all circumstances. Amen.

Gert Berning