Giving joyful thanks to the Father
Paul’s last admonishment for leading a worthy life is for us to give thanks to God primarily because “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.”
A Harvard Health report states that:
“gratitude… helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power… Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships… Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
But when should we give thanks to God? Of course, we all know the answer is “always”. Right? But this is much harder to do than to say. I have found that not only is it important to thank God when he opens up incredible opportunities and does great things in our lives but even more importantly when things aren’t going our way. When we are disappointed or discouraged, this is the time to give him thanks for not what he has done but simply for who he is. Paul’s entire basis for giving thanks exceeds our earthly situation.
It is important for us to remember that it was when Christ had very little that he gave thanks for what he did have and saw it multiplied. Or stated differently, it was what Christ gave thanks for that God ended up multiplying! That it was when Paul and Silas rejoiced and thanked God that the Earth shook and their chains fell off.
Nothing realigns us quicker to God’s eternal perspective than when we thank him amid life’s circumstances. It reminds us that our current trials and struggles are momentary; and that greater rewards await us. When we lose our job or have been passed over for the promotion we’ve worked for, or when the doctor’s report isn’t good news and things don’t work out as planned; this is when we should pause and thank God for our eternal destiny is in him.
Here are some ideas for fostering a life of giving thanks:
This next year, make giving thanks a part of your daily activity with God and watch in amazement as he changes your perspective.
- Give Thanks each day when you enter God presence. Start your quiet times by giving thanks. No matter how you feel, no matter what is going on in your life, give God sincere thanks for who he is in your life. When I do this, even if I don’t feel like having a quiet time, God begins to stir my spirit and I begin to focus on him and not myself.
- Give Thanks on Special Days of Thanksgiving. There have been times in my life where I needed to see a breakthrough regarding my job, or our finances or in my spiritual walk where I had grown complacent. During these seasons, God has often challenged me to set aside a day to give thanks. As we give thanks, God realigns us to him and gives us a new perspective.
- Give Thanks to others. Be quick to give thanks to your spouse, children, boss, employees, and everywhere we go. Giving thanks to others creates a hospitable environment. Live a thankful life and in doing so, you’ll be a contagious person.
Make 2017 a year of giving thanks for what God has done in your life and will do in the future. And watch in amazement as He changes your perspective.
Living a Worthy Life
In the final scene of Saving Private Ryan, an elderly Ryan visits the gravesite of Captain Miller in Normandy, France with his family. Struggling to validate his life with the sacrifice that was made for him, he squats down at Captain Miller’s grave and says, “I think about what you said to me on the bridge every day, I tried to live my life the best I could, I hope in your eyes I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”