“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” – Psalm 100: 4-5.
Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on what God has done for us, positive memories, blessings, and just things in general for which we’re thankful. It’s easy to be grateful when circumstances turn out well, but thankfulness doesn’t have to be limited just to the good times.
What makes gratitude so beautiful is its rare combination of humility and joy. Like real love, real thankfulness displaces human selfishness — it’s impossible to feel conceited or conniving and feel truly thankful at the same time. When it comes to God, few realities fan the flames of our love for and worship of Him like gratitude. That’s why thanksgiving is talked about so often in the Bible:
Psalm 136 stands out as it repeats a continual refrain, “Give thanks to the Lord,” and then lists many different things for which the psalmist was thankful. Giving thanks is so much more than saying “thank you” when someone does something nice for you or working up feelings of gratitude. Giving thanks is directly tied to your relationship with God.
We see this exemplified time and time again in the New Testament. From the “sinful woman” who put oil on Jesus’ head and poured perfume on His feet as an expression of her thankfulness (Luke 7:36-47) to Zacchaeus paying back fourfold from what he took from others (Luke 19:3-6), thankfulness and gratitude became a hallmark of their life. Then there is Paul. One of the most common characteristics we find in the apostle Paul’s letters is the number of times he gives thanks to God in prayer. The opening of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is an example of this: “I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly.” (Ephesians 1:16) And Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
When we pause and reflect on all that God has done for us, a mere “thank you” doesn’t seem enough. How can we ever be thankful enough for the cross? How do you respond to the general grace that God gives all of us? How do you respond when God blesses you specifically – when He answers prayer? How do you respond when He provides healing, or He supplies your needs in a way only He can? While our thanks may seem unworthy, we should be thankful because God is worthy of our thanksgiving. It is only right to credit Him because every “…good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father,…” (James 1:17).
All of us have a lot to be thankful for this time of year. But not only should we give thanks during the holidays, but we should also give thanks to God every day of the year.
- How is it possible to give thanks even in hard times?
- Does thanking God lead to praising God in your life?
- For what are you most grateful today?