Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
As I look at our surroundings, it seems that our culture is ready to skip Thanksgiving and head straight to Black Friday shopping and a very commercialized Christmas. Let’s slow down and spend some time dwelling on what it means to be Thankful.
Nehemiah 12:46 – For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.
The Hebrew word for praise is halal which means worship, showing honor, showing respect, making God shine, and even thanksgiving.
So, why is thanksgiving mentioned separately from praise? In Hebrew, the word Thanksgiving is
ha–todah from the root word yadah. It is very closely related to yada` which means intimacy.
Thanksgiving leads us to intimacy with God. Isn’t that what we want more than anything?
I have found in my own life that deep, genuine gratitude has been a magnificent gift that opens the door to a life that is full to overflowing. When I drift into mumbling and grumbling, forgetting the great blessings in my life, even being distant from the joy of my salvation, feeling far from the reach of God’s grace… I need only to choose to be thankful. When I take my eyes off myself and my circumstances and begin to look at the world through the lens of thanksgiving, I begin to view everything in a more positive light. I turn to Ephesians 5:20 – “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Always. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. All Circumstances.
Two books that I highly recommend are Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” and “Choosing Gratitude – Your Journey to Joy” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I read these books every year to renew my commitment to choosing gratitude, to being constantly aware of the blessings that surround me, and to keeping the door open to an intimate, ever-growing relationship with Jesus.
Jesus showed us the significance of giving thanks through his example. (From Choosing Gratitude)
- At the return of the seventy disciples (Luke 10:21) Jesus thanked God for His gracious will.
- At the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41) Jesus thanked God for hearing him (before receiving an answer).
- At mealtime – In the Mark 8 account of the feeding of the 4,000 Jesus prayed before handing out the bread, and again before handing out the fish.
- When facing suffering – At the Last Supper it appears that Jesus paused at least three times during the Passover observance to give thanks:
- during supper, before taking the cup (Luke 22:17)
- before distributing the bread (Luke 22:19)
- after supper, before taking another cup (Matthew 26:27)
Jesus gave thanks. He was grateful for the privilege of obeying His Father and fulfilling the mission he had been sent to complete. Yes, even with the knowledge that horrific suffering was imminent…He gave thanks.
Nancy DeMoss interviewed Joni Eareckson Tada, who has lived her entire adult life as a quadriplegic. She asked her, “How do you maintain such a joyful spirit, with all the challenges you’re forced to deal with on a daily basis?” Joni replied, “You know, Nancy, I think I’ve just disciplined myself for so many years to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ that it has become my reflex reaction.”
Lord, forgive me for my sin of ingratitude and lead me in your ways of thankfulness.
What if we started this November by making a list of all that we are thankful for…the big things and the seemingly insignificant things that make up our lives? What if we practiced giving thanks for all things?
Let’s start by thanking God for our children and grandchildren… for each of them in their complete uniqueness, fit for the plan and purpose of their Creator. Have you ever wondered if some of the qualities in your children that drive you up the wall are the very qualities that may be necessary as they live out the life purpose God has planned for them? Be thankful for them just as they are.
Let’s worship our Lord by giving thanks with a grateful heart.
And if you know the song… please start singing now. And be grateful that you cannot hear me singing it.
Let’s talk about it:
- What simple things are you most grateful for?
- Has your heart ever been filled with gratitude for an experience that involved pain, suffering, or despair?
- Do you thank God even before He answers your prayers?