Are you artistic? Are you creative? Some people have a creativity that fashions perfect moments out of ordinary ones, makes old wood and rusty metal into works of beauty. Others of us have to wait for inspiration.
Creativity is intelligence having fun, turning up the color, pushing beyond the bounds of the normal into the imaginative. A person with an artistic bent can take a basic subject and express it, illustrate it, and expand on it creatively.
Isaiah was an artist. He wrote to people who were pressed down and discouraged and creatively inspired them toward the art and discipline of thankfulness.
Thankful for God’s Creativity
Having lived on three different continents for at least a decade each, I have grown to love people and their cultures. I love their diversity. I love how we are all basically the same, and yet so complicatedly different. Food, clothing, language, customs, celebrations and values distinguish one culture from another. But all of us want to be accepted and loved. And all of us need redemption.
Our God is amazing. He created each one of us from the same source. Noah and Mrs. Noah had the genetic DNA to provide for the awesome diversity we see around us. God is the ultimate artist. Just stunning that millions and millions of unique people could come from that one couple.
God Is Impartial
Presently in our world, equality is very fractious topic. Our differences have created inequities, which in turn cause pain. People are mistreated and abused. That trauma leaves scars, and painful responses build even greater pain and separation.
We protest and fight for equal rights. It is understandable. We want the wrongdoer to be paid back for the wrong he has done. We want there to be justice without partiality.
The problem is that our world is broken. It got messed up. When sin entered, our perfect world was infected with selfishness and a growing desire to worship things instead of God. Selfishness and greed allowed prejudice to take root in our thinking, creating in-groups and out-groups, the haves and the have-nots. The longer our cultures drifted from God, or ran from Him, the more we rejected His truth that there should be no partiality.
Before the cross of Jesus, there is no difference between ethnicities and genders. We all stand guilty and in need of a Savior.
Before the Judgment Throne one day, we will also stand completely equal. No one will have extra favors because of family or wealth or connections. The only thing that will matter is whether we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
The Art of Thankfulness
Expressing our gratitude is both an art and art appreciation. An “aesthete” is a person who appreciates art. Most of us cannot handle a day in an art museum; we move through at a good speed stopping only to acknowledge famous things. Aesthetes move slowly, and often, not at all. They are emotionally intelligent people who can just stare at a painting, moving their focus here and there to notice the details and just drink it all in.
Thinking and expressing thankfulness to God is being an aesthete in his art museum. It stops our tendency to walk on by, and focuses on the details in His painting, the hues and contrasts in color, the choices of light and shadow. Such thankfulness, can both amaze and comfort us. This artist KNOWS what He is doing. He is a Master.
On Which Part of the Painting Do I Focus?
In chapter 12 of his book, Isaiah lays out a solution to the struggles that we face. The people around him were very discouraged. They had suffered from the Assyrians and had gone through great turmoil and hardship, but in the middle of their difficulties, Isaiah points to hope in God their Savior. He directed their eyes to other parts of the vast painting, where darkness will be abruptly ended by a hero emblazoned in a golden glow.
We have a similar hope in God who alone, through the work of Jesus on a cruel cross, can forgive us, save us from the wrath to come, birth new spiritual life in us, send His Spirit to indwell us as a Comforter and Guide, begin His lifelong work of transforming us from the inside out, and give us the hope of a home with Him forever. If we could take a peek at the fate of the unrighteous, we would never stop saying “thank you.”
You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), some translators say, “God’s original masterpiece.” Your life, with its light and dark streaks, bright colors and dull grays, is His workmanship. How do you assess His work? Are you a critic or an aesthete?
Children stand too close to God’s painting of their lives; they see just the color in front of them. It is not until our waning years that we are often able to get a better perspective, standing back from the painting, to see His design. Even then, we still look at everything through a smoky glass, which will be taken away when we arrive Home.
A culture is a much bigger painting, involving all of the paintings of individual lives and how they flow into each other. One theme in art is that bright colors represent joy. How wonderful it can be, then, when humans of every color bring their unique palettes to the greater canvas of culture.
True, the darkness of fallen sinfulness covers some canvases, but the image of God can also be seen in every culture. Smallness is a fear of colors not in our palette; largesse is thankfulness for all colors and looking for ways in which those colors, including our own, can be redeemed and used by the Master painter for His glory.
From Thorny Problems to Thankful Proclamation
Our Pastor Des here in Amanzimtoti, South Africa, shared this devotional on this topic.
“Our attitude of thankfulness is:
- Fueled by remembrance
- Founded on trust in a sovereign God
- Strengthened through proclamation”
How victorious to move our focus from the thorny problems around us to the solution of God. He has made a way of reconciliation. He has forgiven. He has paid for all the injustices. He gives mercy and freedom to His restored image-bearers, and enables us to show those qualities to others.
We can trust the Righteous Judge to set all things right in His time. In this world we will have struggles and injustices. There will be pain and sickness and persecution. But in Christ we are headed to a better place.
“For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” Colossians 3:25