“There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!” ― Psalm 43:4
We are approximately 130 days from Thanksgiving 2019. For hundreds of years, Americans have been giving thanks for the blessings of the preceding year. But for Christians, every day should be a day of thanksgiving. The regular practice of gratitude is a staple in scriptures: (Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 1 Chronicles 16:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Most verses go on to list reasons why we should thank Him, such as “His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:3), “He is good” (Psalm 118:29), and “His faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Psalm 100:5).
Today, ingratitude and thanklessness are far too common. It is easy to be thankful when things are going well. But not as easy when you suffer an unforeseen illness, lose a job, or the relationship you have been working on for months just continues to sour. Such circumstances can be tremendously difficult. But even so, we all have much to be thankful for. Just ask Paul.
The footstep he hears in the prison corridor could be the guards coming to take him to his execution. His daily habitat was a dark, damp, cramped prison cell. His bed was the stone floor. The irritation of the chains and the pain of the iron manacles cutting into his wrists and legs were his daily companion. If ever a person had a right to complain, it was Paul, languishing in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, he was full of praise and thanksgiving.
Imagine if we could emulate Paul by giving thanks no matter the circumstances. What if rather than waiting for Thanksgiving or other special occasions to be thankful, gratitude and thanksgiving was a daily reality. We don’t have to look far to find countless things to be grateful for. Perhaps we take many things for granted, like the air we breathe or even life itself. Being thankful for our family and friends is natural, but is our gratitude visible?
The Holy Spirit is the substance of it, the source of it, and the strength of being thankful. We are to be filled with the Spirit, and we are to be giving thanks. And that’s the only way we can do it. In Colossians, Paul urges Christians to “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2) He reminds us to “always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:12-15)
- Is being thankful really our choice? Can we actually decide that we will be thankful people? Where has being thankful ranked on your list of required Christian qualities up until now?