This is the time of year (Thanksgiving) where most people think of what they are thankful for. It’s a time of appreciation and gratitude. Often, families will have a nice meal and express the things they are thankful for. For some, this is the only time of year they do this. However, God wants us to be thankful always. Above all, be grateful for what you have and know that God has even better things prepared for you.
To be thankful is a state of mind. You must look at the good that is in your life. It seems that as humans we are more accustomed to seeing the negative. It’s easier to see what’s wrong in our lives rather than see the good that we have. To clarify, it’s not that we ignore the bad, we just put more focus on the good.
Being thankful guards our hearts
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7
God tells us to be anxious for nothing because He knew that this would be hard for us. Focusing on the good isn’t always easy. There are times when we can feel as if there is more bad than good in our lives. That’s what happens when we focus on the bad.
However, God knows that thankfulness is the key. He tells us that by “prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving…” Isn’t that interesting? He wants our prayers filled with thanksgiving. Instead we often complain to God in prayer. We tell Him all the bad stuff we are going through and how terrible we feel. It’s true that God can handle that because He likes you to tell Him how you are feeling. Therefore, you can be honest with God.
However, He wants us to be thankful. Tell God the things you are thankful for. Instead of whining and complaining to God, pray with thanksgiving in your heart. The Bible then declares that the peace of God will guard your hearts. Therefore, you won’t be anxious anymore. He first tells you not to be anxious and then He tells you how to defeat anxiety. You defeat anxiety through thankfulness. Therefore be grateful for all God has given you!
Being thankful is the best offering you can give
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, which has horns and hooves. Psalm 69:30, 31
Here we see that God wants us to come with praise and thanksgiving. Likewise, He wants our hearts to overflow with gratefulness for all He has done! We often look at the present and complain about what’s happening, but if we want to advance, we must embrace the present by being thankful. Also, knowing that God has much more prepared.
Some people use the excuse at offering time that they have nothing to give. Meanwhile this is rarely true. The truth is most people just don’t want to give. In the Old Testament offerings were ox and bulls. This was something that pleased God. However, the Psalmist says that thankfulness was even better than his offerings.
If we want to give our best offering to God then we must be thankful. Above all, show God your gratitude. Let Him know that you are thankful for what you have been given.
Be thankful in everything
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What should we be thankful for? Everything! God desires that we always praise Him. Although at times we don’t know how to be thankful for what we are going through. However, it’s important that we are thankful. Therefore, we don’t always need to understand everything. Sometimes we just need to let God be God and know that He has everything under control.
God always has His best intentions for us. However, His intentions may not always look like our intentions, but He does know best. We show our trust to God by being thankful in everything. Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve given thanks. It will take some practice, but it will be worth the effort.
I say all this as it’s become a revelation in my heart. I desire to thank God always. I can catch myself complaining at times. However, I try to change that complaining into a prayer of thankfulness.
A few years ago, on a trip to Honduras led by our good friends Eric & Michelle Johns with the Buffalo Dream Center, is a time all who were on that team will never forget. (I say this because even years later people have still mentioned it). We received a great revelation on thankfulness because we had every reason to complain. The conditions where we were staying were tough (even for us missionary veterans). The easy thing to do was complain. Our day did begin like that.
However, we decided to start our day with praise. I was asked to lead worship and as I broke into spontaneous worship, I began to thank God. I then encouraged others to thank God and to turn their complaint into praise. We began to thank God for the bugs, fleas, rainstorm, wild pig at 4:00 am, etc. As we began to do that His Presence came into the room in a very special way. We all shouted out what we were thankful for. It changed our perspective. (You can read more about this in my book, Trusting God’s Timing)
Tell God how thankful you are for all that He has done. Start everyday by thanking God for who He is and that He is in your life. Turn your complaints into praise.
Missionary/Pastor Founder of House of Refuge Street Ministries
Author of Trusting God’s Timing