As flood waters rose around Houston earlier this week, neighbors came together to help neighbors because that’s what Texans do.
In one such scene, a man holding his infant road out from his flooded house on a fisherman’s johnboat. As he stepped out of the boat into safety, he reached into his pocket to offer his rescuer the cash he had in it. Even though this man was facing devastating loss, he was so grateful to be saved that he offered all that he had in thankfulness.
God longs to hear that kind of gratitude from us, we children born in sin yet saved by the sacrifice of his one and only Son:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
A humble heart understands what it owes to the forgiver of all sins, to the One who asked of Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . Who marked off its dimensions? . . . Who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38: 4-7).
In a world where even the stones will cry out if we will not praise our God, surely His praises should be ever on our lips.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
When we praise God, we not only please Him, but we also give ourselves a helping of the peace He promises when we agree to join Him in His “easy yoke and light burden” (Matt. 11:30).
In her great devotional, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young encourages us to thank God in all things in order to draw ourselves closer to Him. For example, she writes, we should be thanking Him in advance for His answers to our prayers.
Perhaps you do this all the time already. Perhaps, like me, you have been so intent on the need in your praying, you have forgotten about God’s promise to answer all prayers. His answer may be no, but He always gives you one. When I followed Young’s advice and added thankfulness to my requests, I was quick to discover the calming ability of a little bit of gratitude.
What happens when we don’t give God thanks? Paul tells us this lack of attention leads only to despair:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
On a sunny day, laying in the shade of your favorite tree and sipping lemonade as you listen to the birds chatter over your head–that’s the time to start working your gratitude muscles. Discover new and loving ways to say thank you to the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
It’s those sunny-day thanks that will give you the reflexes to find gratitude as you wallow in life’s shadows. He is sometimes harder to find in the valleys, until you topple into His open arms and realize just how much you actually depend on Him. When you finish being angry at Him for the mess you’re in, you remember the joy of times spent in His presence when being thankful was easy.
You realize just how many reasons you have to be thankful for Him in the midst of your greatest trials.
Like the psalmists who found words of praise for the Lord on a daily basis, you too should vow to:
. . . give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness./ I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17)
Make gratitude a major component in your relationship with God and others, and you’ll soon discover how powerful the words thank you can be.