Do you remember that time, probably when you were very young, when your mother seemed to say constantly to you “Say thank-you!”. It was probably when you were given a treat, or a present, and you had grabbed it and turned away excitedly with it, so taken up with what you have been given that you have forgotten the love and kindness of the one who gave it. At that time “say thank-you” was a valid rebuke. But what if thankfulness was the defining part of who we are?
Thankfulness, gratitude, is a prominent Bible theme. It’s part of who we should become in Jesus: 1 Thess 5:16-18 says “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These are wonderful words! What a change in our personality and approach to life must happen in Jesus to genuinely be joyful always, giving thanks in all circumstances! But (and this is the key thing to grasp) there is transformation available in Jesus that should bring about such a dramatic change!
The root of the change comes from knowing God.
Ps 136:1 says “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever”. Before we know Him, difficult times, fearful times, are a product of fate and powers beyond us. But knowing Him, knowing that He loved me so much to give His own Son for me, and His love cannot change because He is unchanging, and cannot be taken from us … that changes how we view our circumstances. We don’t rejoice because of our circumstances, we rejoice because He loves us, He is with us, and He will be with us whatever the circumstance. Knowing Him changes everything. So, join with Paul in saying “I want to know You”
And, in Christ, we also see that God is at work.
In 2 Cor 2:14 Paul talks about God “always lead[ing] us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spread[ing] everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him”. He sees that in every circumstance, even persecution and imprisonment, God is working, bringing glory to God through us. Because Paul’s eyes are so fixed on God’s work, elsewhere we hear him and Silas sing songs of praise from prison, even though they have been flogged. So, ask God to give you Kingdom vision which transforms how we view every circumstance.
And, our eyes are opened to see His daily goodness.
James 1:17 reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above”. Each day we have is a gift from God. Family and friends are His gift. Food and clothing is the result of His provision and mercy. I once knew a man who had recently come to know the Lord. He was brilliant to meet because each day this wealthy, prosperous man who had been used to grabbing for Himself now saw with new eyes! Everything he saw He suddenly realised came from God, and He was literally ‘bouncing’ with joy in God’s goodness! So ask God to open your eyes to His daily goodness.
But, above all, we are thankful because we have Him.
In Psalm 28 David is in deep distress. He cries out to God for help. But then a song of praise resounds: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song”. He is joyful through tears, because He has God even when all else fails.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”Ps 107:1