This is the time of year when we celebrate Thanksgiving and stop to give thanks to God for all His faithfulness and His care and gifts. But do we remember to be thankful only once a year? Or are we in the habit of being thankful to God all year round?
Fussing and finding fault seems to come naturally to me. Learning to have a thankful spirit is the only thing I can do to stop my complaining spirit. So, I often must try to stop my old habit of complaining by learning a new habit of thanksgiving. And of thanking and praising God. Thanking Him for His faithfulness and love and thanking Him for all His good gifts!
Scripture says: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18) This is one of hundreds of verses where our heavenly Father asks us to have thankful hearts to Him. Scripture tells us that our grateful heart means so much to God. Gratitude is a way of living and a way of seeing our world. You could call it “thanks living”.
Something happens! It’s a mystery but there is power released in thanksgiving and praise to God! Power in giving God the glory! Power in the humility to not think that we did it all by ourselves! Praise creates an opening in the spiritual atmosphere where people can better hear the Word and hold onto it through faith.
We can also remember to thank the people around us – our loved ones and our neighbors and friends. We can make gratitude a way of living. And a way of seeing. Always looking for the good in others and giving thanks. We might be surprised at how much love others are showing us if we start looking for it.
When a family member or friend doesn’t take time to thank us for a gift we have given them, it can take some of the joy out of our giving gifts to that one in the future. And when we only find fault and seldom remember the good in a family member or a friend, it also takes some of the joy out of the relationship. God meant for our close relationships to bring us joy. But we can kill that joy if we don’t keep an attitude of gratitude.
A story is told in the Bible of Jesus healing ten lepers. (Luke 17:11-19) Ten people dying of a painful dreaded disease. A disease that was contagious. So contagious that lepers in that day had to live outside of the town and away from their loved ones. All ten lepers left Jesus rejoicing that they had been miraculously healed!
But only one of the ten lepers came back to Jesus to thank Him. This one healed man fell at Jesus’ feet and loudly thanked Him and praised God for his healing. “Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked. When the healed leper finished thanking Jesus and was leaving, Jesus told him: “Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19) When Jesus said that, did He mean that the healed leper’s thankful spirit had something to do with his faith? Does our faith in God grow when we learn to thank Him for His goodness?
This story, as well as many others in Scripture, remind us that God desires that we be thankful people. He waits for our praise and our thanksgiving. Jesus was glad when the one leper returned to give thanks, but He missed the other nine when they were too busy or forgot. Do we thank God each day for His blessings to us or are we too busy to be thankful?
So many people are living with depression today. We have so many troubles that sometimes we can feel depressed and overwhelmed. We try to take care of our problems on our own and often fail. It can feel like it is all too much for us to handle.
But when we stop and give our problems to God and praise and thank Him for the help that He is giving us, hope and joy in God replaces our depression. Singing and praising God with thanks can break the power of fear off us and help us to get rid of unbelief and doubt. Praising and thanking God is not only powerful, but it is warfare!
My grandmother was only 30 years old when her husband, my grandfather, died of meningitis. Grief stricken, lonely and depressed. She told me she didn’t want to live. Frightened because she had so little money, she worried that she would never be able to raise her two small children by herself.
Then one Sunday in her little church the Lord spoke to her. They were singing the old hymn, “Count Your Blessings.” The words go: “Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.” The Lord spoke to my Grandmother and told her to start counting all that He was doing for her. She started counting her blessings and she kept on counting and thanking God. And she found the strength to move on and run her farm by herself and successfully raise her two children. She was a great strength in my life because she was a woman of joy and faith and thanksgiving to God.
If learning to count her blessings could help my Grandmother years ago in her darkest hour, it could help you and me too. Let’s learn to be more thankful all year round. Scripture says: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)