In the United States, thankfulness is part of our national heritage. The creation of our Thanksgivingholiday is rooted in our European Pilgrim forefathers who came to America in the early 1600s. Their practice of thanksgiving feasts came from their religious faith. They worshiped God, were followers of Jesus and read their Bible. One passage they no doubt read was Ephesians 5:20, “. . . [give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .”
“Attitude of Gratitude”, “A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart”, “Thankfulness is The Beginning of Happiness.” These are just some of the quotes you see after a quick search about thankfulness. On the surface it appears thankfulness is a motivational and inspirational concept to “turn that frown upside down” and get our “half empty glass, half full”. Thankfulness has much more substance than that.
The whole idea of thankfulness has religious origins, found in our Creator. To separate thankfulness from any mention about God and keep it merely as a motivational topic is to miss the real deep and rich meaning.
The word “thanks” comes from the words “good” and “grace”. It denotes two parties. A giver and receiver. The giver shows some kindness and the receiver responds with thankfulness to the good grace shown him or her.
In our western culture we act as if there was just one party. We say, “Be thankful” or “I am thankful.” But I ask, “To whom?” We, as the receivers, are saying “thanks”, but we are acting as if it is in a vacuum. There was a giver. I argue, based on the truthfulness of the Bible, God’s Word, that God is the giver of all good things.
There are unexpected blessings, kind acts, mysterious happenings that we may attribute to medicine, science, chance, fate or simply to nice people. But behind it all is an invisible God showing you His goodness and grace. Give Him thanks. This is a message for the committed believer and for the nonreligious skeptic.
Talking about thanking God when things go our way, is one thing, but what about in times of suffering and hardship? In those times we often turn and blame God, yet, His goodness and grace is there in bad times, too. Because the pain blurs our vision, we often need God’s help, or the help of others, to see His goodness.
Acknowledgement is a key word in thanks. In personal relationships, we should personally acknowledge the good someone brought us; with God it is the same. Giving thanks is acknowledging His grace in the fabric of our lives – during the good times and bad.
And the greatest act of kindness God has shown – is the giving of Jesus, His only Son. Jesus’ life, death and rising again, gave you an opportunity for new life through forgiveness of all your sin. He gave to the world without being asked and in the face of disbelief and opposition. One day you will stand before Him and be judged. Will you have believed and given thanks for Jesus or will you refuse and experience God’s wrath? Open your spiritual eyes and see God’s goodness shown to you in Christ, then follow Him with all your heart.
A prayer for you to pray– “Lord God, help me to see your goodness and grace in my life, in both the good times and bad. Open my eyes that I might give you thanks and praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Clint Decker is President & Evangelist with Great Awakenings, Inc. Hope for Today is a syndicated column that appears online and in newspapers from North Dakota to Texas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free at 877-433-3220.