Give Thanks to God in Times of Suffering and Sorrow

Now Thank We All Our God — Nun Danket Alle Gott

Words By: Martin Rinkart, 1636
English Translation By: C. Winkwoth, 1863
Tune By: Johann Gruger, 1647

This great hymn, ‘Now Thank We All Our God’ has brought comfort to many people in their time of need. To pen the words of this hymn of thanks to God in the midst of great sorrow and pain is truly amazing and a testimony to God’s abundant mercy and grace.
— Music Video by: Michael Lining Music

Martin Rinkart and the Thirty Years War in Europe

Martin Rinkart was just 31 years old when he became pastor of the Lutheran Church in his hometown of Eilenburg, Saxony. Within a year of Martin becoming pastor, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) began which was one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts costing the lives of more than 8 million people. By 1631 the war reached the city of Eilenburg. A few years later in 1636, Martin composed the words to the now famous hymn, Now Thank We All Our God.

Then in 1637, just a year later, the overcrowding from the many people seeking refuge in the walled city of Eilenburg, along with the destruction, and resulting famine and plague caused by the war resulted in the death of around 8000 souls in Eilenburg in that single year alone.

In 1637 only four Pastors remained to attend to the suffering and death that was increasingly all too common in Eilenburg. As a result of the plague and mounting death one of those Pastors moved away to a safer place. In the days following Martin and the remaining two Pastors often conducted as many as 40 to 50 funerals a day.

Martin Conducts Around 4000 Funerals in a Single Year

Eventually the other two Pastors died leaving only Martin to comfort the people of his city. In one single year Martin is said to have conducted around 4000 funerals. Martin also lost his own wife to the plague. There were so many deaths in Eilenburg that the city ultimately had to bury the dead in mass graves.

Over the period of the Thirty Years War Eilenburg was overrun by armies three times. The fighting often disrupted the food supply resulting in famine and hunger. The overcrowding in the city, as people in surrounding areas came to the walled city of Eilenburg for safety, along with the lack of a sufficient food supply, resulted in various sicknesses and plagues within that city.

Martin Remains Steadfast as a Servant of Christ

Through all of the suffering, grief and despair in his city Martin remained steadfast as a beacon of hope as he counseled the people of his city to turn toward God in their time of trouble and trust God for comfort and guidance at a time when all hope seemed very far away. Martin is said to have worked diligently in projects to feed the people of the city and often gave of his own wealth and family food supply to help those in need. He was an example of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as a true servant of God and disciple of Jesus Christ.

Over the last number of centuries the words of this great hymn, Now Thank We All Our God, has brought comfort to many people in their time of need. For Martin to pen the words to this hymn of thanks to God in the midst of such great sorrow and pain is truly amazing and a testimony to God’s abundant mercy and grace.

Giving Thanks to God in Your Time of Suffering, Sorrow and Pain

When you suffer the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a treasured dream, or the loss of income, or are overwhelmed by an accident or ill-health, or have given up all hope for yourself, it is good to turn to Jesus at such a time. He is a true friend that understands all you are going through. If you turn to Him and trust in Him He will never leave you or forsake you. When you feel no one else can help you, Jesus can and Jesus will. In Him you will find Thanksgiving to God to be your greatest comfort and joy especially in your time of sorrow, or at any other time.

When Suffering a Loss in this Life Consider the Words Below from the Bible:

” 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. … 12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” – James 1:2-5,12 (KJV)

In the verses above James tells us to count it all joy when we encounter the trials of our faith in the troubles and sorrows of this life. Why would he say such a thing? It is because trials work patience in us to perfect us. When we endure with trust and faith in God the trials of loss, suffering and heartache, we can look forward to receiving from God Himself the crown of life. The eternal promise of life everlasting that follows believers all through this life is why we can and should offer up thanks to God at all times and especially in our darkest hours.

Lyrics to the Hymn Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.