Learning gratitude in real life takes effort. It is taught in our homes.
When a child receives a birthday gift from someone, the mom usually cues the child, “What do you say?”
It’s a prompt for the child to express thanks to the giver.
The thanksgiving season reminds us to look for the blessings in our lives and be thankful for them. Thankfulness has to be given to someone.
We pause to give thanks to the Giver of all things.
Gratitude is given to someone, not aimless words tossed into the air. As believers, we give thanks to the sovereign God. He has chosen to make himself known to us, revealing his character in many ways. He is holy, loving, and forgiving, to name a few characteristics. He is Immanuel, the God who is with us and for us. God chose to redeem us from sin.
Even when tough times come, God is good. In the midst of loneliness, his love is present. We thank God for these enduring qualities.
I’m thankful I can see God in his word, in creation, in other people through the Holy Spirit.
Why should we give thanks?
Giving thanks reminds us of the character and actions of God, as recorded in Psalm 136 which begins
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever. (verse 1)
The psalmist goes on to recall the saving works of God, often repeating the first verse.
Ephesians 1:3-20 reminds us of God’s view of those who follow him—we are chosen by God, adopted, received lavish grace, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit. All of those are unseen spiritual blessings. We also have the blessings of hope, a heavenly inheritance, and God’s power within us.
When we realize all God has done, our hearts praise him.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptable and with awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (emphasis added) Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV
Praise and worship convey our gratitude to God.
Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NIV
God’s unfailing love is active everyday. He is at work even when we can’t see it.
Every day is an opportunity to thank God.
We grow in the discipline of giving thanks to God in real life.
- Begin each day with a prayer of thanks to God for the new day and its opportunities.
- End each day with a prayer of thanks for the physical provisions—food, shelter, safety, family.
- Teach children when they are young about saying thanks to God. Tell the Thanksgiving story. Do simple activities, like making a “thankful chain” (Cut strips of paper, write things the family is thankful for on each strip, and link them together. Hang it in the house or on the Christmas tree).
- Send a note of appreciation to someone who has made an impact on you.
- Give up complaining for a day.
May we not need a prompt to express our thanks to God.
Instead, may our eyes be open to the seen and unseen blessings with a heart of gratitude.