“I thought we could all go around the room and share something we’d like to thank or praise God for” said Pastor Josh.
I found myself slightly panicking as I tried to quickly think of something I could say.
Other people in our connection group were starting to share but not
much was coming to my mind. “Quick! Think of something!” I tried to tell myself.
“My kids. I can say I’m thankful for my kids!” I felt a slight moment of relief before the next thought of “No, too generic, too generic” flooded my brain.
My husband, Mike, shared that he was thankful our newborn was starting to get into a schedule and sleeping better at night. Someone else commented about the good timing of that with Mike just now going back to school.
I quickly managed to squeak out that I was thankful he had been home over the summer to help with the transition of adding our third. I felt slightly embarrassed that I couldn’t think of anything else to say and wondered if other people thought it was odd that I wasn’t sharing either.
What was wrong here? Well, while I’d like to blame it on a bad case of “mommy brain” I have to admit that I think the problem goes deeper than that.
The problem is that I haven’t been doing much to cultivate a thankful heart lately. And that is sin. God clearly states many times throughout His Word that we are to be thankful and I just haven’t been doing it. I’ve been rather content to overlook His many blessings; either claiming them as a product of my own labor or complaining about the things I think I deserve to have, but don’t.
Why should we be thankful?
1. For the glory of God.
Psalm 31:11 – 12 – “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou has put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever.”
Psalm 50:14- 15- “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay vows unto the Most High: and call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify Me.”
2. To display God to others.
Psalm 35:18- “I will give thanks in the great congregation: I will praise Thee among much people.”
Psalm 69:30 – “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
I love this! One of the ways we can make God bigger to those around us is through much thanksgiving! I’m not sure I had really made that connection before. I know that I’m supposed to be thankful but usually I connect it more with the fact that it makes me a less miserable person to be around. And yet right here in Psalm 69 we see that our thanksgiving is a way of magnifying God.
Our thankful hearts can be a means of pointing not only ourselves but other
people back to God as well.
Ok, so I get it. We are supposed to be thankful. Thankful for what though?
Psalm 68:19 says “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
Really? Daily loadeth us with benefits? Sometimes I find that hard to believe. I can think of some obvious things like food, my family and my home but beyond that sometimes I honestly have a hard time coming up with much more.
My children have been good for me in this area. Over the month of November we’ve been doing a “thankful tree.” We started with an empty tree trunk and each day we’ve been writing things we’re thankful for onto leaves and taping them onto the tree. And you know what? My kids haven’t been giving me complicated lists of things they are thankful for. They’ve been saying things like “socks, pumpkins, leaves, milk, cereal, cheese, books, forks, cups, bibs,
jammies, etc.” And sometimes they are even repeating themselves and saying the same things they said the day before.
In some ways I think they have a better grasp than me of how God daily “loads us with benefits.” Little things like warm/soapy water to wash dishes in, a cup of coffee, a special song, a chat with a friend, a child’s smile, an encouraging text, a couch to sit on or a pillow for my head, etc., etc., etc., are all things I could be giving God thanks for!
Wow. I’ve been missing out on a lot of opportunities to give thanks.
Within scripture we find even more gifts.
“He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” –(Acts 17:25)
There are times where I’ve watched my children sleep and with every rise of their stomach I’ve thought “that’s another breath that God just gave to them.” Something as simple as breath is a gift from God.
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of
heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” -(Acts 17:24)
As we drive in the car, go for walks or play in the back yard we can be taking the time to notice the creation all around us and be pointing our children to the Creator. “What a beautiful sunset God painted just for us!” or “Lets see how many different shades of green we can find that God has created in our back yard.”
“Love is of God… for God is love.” – (1 John 4:7-8)
Our ability to love is linked directly to God. When is the last time we thanked God for those we love and for those who love us back?
“My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto Thee; and my soul, which Thou
has redeemed.” – (Psalm 71:23)
How often are we taking the time to verbally share with our children, friends and families about the story of our redemption?
5. Spiritual blessings.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” – (Ephesians 1:3)
Sometimes I personally find it easier to thank God for the material things around me while overlooking the many spiritual blessings He blesses me with. What would our lives look like without His grace? Without His Spirit? Without direct access to our God? Without eternal security?
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” – Psalm 68:19.
Let’s recognize these daily things as coming from His hand and look for ways to give thanks!