“Be sure to say, ‘thank you!'” – is a common phrase and reminder that parents order, give, and request their children to say. “Thank you” is one of those coveted, electrifying statements. Children, teens, and adults of all ages say “Thanks” or “Thank you” without a hint or a suggestion of appreciation. We say it because we are supposed to say it. No one wants to be rude or unappreciative ~ so we give out “thanks” for just about everything and anything.
Yet, may I suggest that while so many “Thanks” and “Thank You(s)” are given because of proper etiquette, at the same time, “The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: Thank You.” (M. Eckart) It is fascinating, I believe, that the heart is where the true value, importance, and motivation for thanks and thanksgiving is found. It’s not in the words alone ~ it is in the deep chamber of the heart.
If, on true examination of the heart, we find more grumbling than gratitude, the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit can help us with an attitude adjustment. That is good news! You see, God’s Word overflows with instruction on the “where, when, why, and how” of gratitude. In fact, the first Thanksgiving feasts were the Israelites’—among them, The Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22) and The Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23: 34-43). The book of Psalms instructs more than 30 times to thank God. Many times, gratitude is the only response to “His [God’s] love endures forever” (Ps. 118:29, NIV). The Old Testament prophet Daniel’s thanksgiving habit disregarded his circumstances (Dan. 6:10). Jesus’ life modeled humble gratitude through and through ~ from beginning to end. Countless times He gave thanks to the Father — at the Last Supper (Mark 14:22-23); for loaves and fishes that would feed thousands (Matt.14:19); for a post-resurrection meal with His disciples (Luke 24:30).
Gratitude is a God-given gift to lead us to God. When we acknowledge Him as the source of all goodness, our thankfulness deepens and becomes alive. The deeper we go into the heart of God and with God, the more authentic our appreciation of the God who loves us and desires only our good. Our 5 senses awaken us to His abundant gifts and provision. We find ourselves “lost in wonder, love, and praise” and the gratitude cycle begins again! We can even be grateful for being grateful! I love the statement by Christina Rossetti, who so remarkably observed, “The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful, and has nobody to thank.”
A gratitude-filled heart lacks the room for whining, self-pity, pride, or hatred. A life of gratitude actually distinguishes us from the wicked, who refuse to give thanks to God (see Rom. 1:21).
Gratitude takes practice. It sure does. As we consciously awaken to all we have to be grateful for, God will slowly develop in us a continual attitude of gratitude. I love that statement and you will hear more about it later and in the near future. For now, know this and I am reminding myself: True thankfulness is the foundation for our love for God and for His others. The work of our daily lives is at its best when it springs from a heart overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving.
Gratitude is a beautiful life testimony to the work and power of God!
In His joy,