There is a curious mystery that does battle in my mind. On the one hand, we live in world full of sin and misery. The multitude of individual sins—ours and others—along with all their minor and major consequences; the pain and suffering of sickness, injury and death; the sadness of weariness and loss—this world is a very ugly place. On the other hand, as Christians we, at the same time, live in world wholly unlike the one I just described. God’s Word tells us to live with contentment and even joy in the midst of these very trials. In the swirl of the ugliness of a fallen world we are instructed to see with different eyes and hear with different ears:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. —Philippians 4:8-9

More than that, we are commanded to give thanks in and for everything:

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians. 5:15-18

The answer to this curious mystery lies in the fact that we—the redeemed of God—have been, and are being, rescued from the former world of sin and misery. We have begun that process, here and now, whereby we will indeed arrive at our final destination; a place free of sin and misery. We are not waiting for pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by, we have already begun receiving the benefits of redemption:

…giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. —Colossians 1:12-14

This new life is set in contrast with the old:

Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. —Ephesians 5:1-4

Even when we are troubled by the evil and the dreadful things of this world, we are exhorted to:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:4-7

As we come to our loaded boards and behold the sights and aromas and tastes and textures of God’s goodness, let us see with new eyes that God has indeed prepared a Table for us in the presence of our enemies. It is one more token of redemption begun. It is the appetizer before the marriage feast of the Lamb. Let us give thanks!