To give thanks means to acknowledge all that God has given you. It’s to see God’s grace, not despite your current circumstances but within them. When we give God thanks, as the bible instructs, we please the Father. A grateful heart is a part of our relationship and connection to God. Just like we express our gratitude to our spouses, family, and friends for being present with us, we get to thank God.
David Kim describes thanks like this: “The biblical definition of thanks is very rich and meaningful. It’s a different way of looking at life and how God works in the world. It’s based on God’s goodness towards mankind and involves responding to Him with our whole being.”
Gratitude improves our well being
Research shows that gratitude improves sleep, increases the likelihood of exercise, and lead to feelings of contentment in life. When we give thanks, our bodies, spirits, and souls are impacted. Amazingly, our capacity to give thanks is limitless. We can apply it to our past, present, and future. When we practice doing so, we begin to see God more and more for who He is. All that we are begins to respond to Him.
Harvard Health writes that “[p]eople feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.”
Consider the different ways you could being to keep track of God’s goodness with these prompts below…
Ways to give thanks to God:
For your past:
- thanking God for what He protected you from (sin, situations, or choices)
- thanking God for His pursuit of you (His consistent love never wavered)
- thanking God for seeing you for who He created you to be, not what you have done (Jesus’s grace covers all sin)
For your present:
- thanking God for the present circumstance, even if you’re unsure it’s purpose (God wastes nothing!)
- thanking God for His spirit being withyou now (Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live inside you)
- thanking God for a heavenly identity / reality (There is a purpose beyond your “now”)
For your future:
- thanking God that He has plans to prosper, not harm, you
- thanking God for promising to never leave or forsake you
- thanking God for His presence going before you to make a way
The word tells us to give thanks
The bible instructs us to give thanks, there’s even a psalm dedicated to giving thanks:
“A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:1-5)
Reading this scripture revitalizes our spirits and provides heavenly perspective about God’s love for us and even our children’s children. But in the here and now…it can feel like…what’s the point? Why do we acknowledge God over and over again? Maybe we can even questions how this scripture is meaningful in the here and now. The truth is, we give thanks because we recognize our need for God, and His faithfulness to give Himself to us unconditionally. He sustains us, saved us from sin, and set us on an eternal destiny to spend forever with Him.
Gratitude is a choice
A heart of gratitude can feel hard to come by. And that might just be because…it takes effort. When we give thanks, we must intentionally shift our minds into a different headspace. This might feel unnatural to us at first. And, depending on the circumstance, will require us to really choose it, before we feel it. For me, I had a moment like this during birth. We were nearing the end, so close to meeting our son, and I was exhausted. My midwife encouraged me to march in place and I was brought to a mental crossroads: I could either whine and complain about the discomfort, or I could focus on the miracle that was taking place with us.
In that moment, I began to give thanks to God, almost whispering my gratitude. “Thank you God for our son”, “thank you God for this moment”, “thank you God for your presence”. As I spoke these words, the atmosphere around us shifted. We weren’t suddenly waiting, holding our breath, we were relaxed. We were grateful, and our bodies, hearts, and minds, responded to this.
While this is remembered like a mountaintop moment in my mind, it had potential to be a dreaded memory. Something inside of me remembered the gift that my current circumstance was, despite my pain, discomfort, and the unknown the was before me. I knew that God was within me. I couldn’t control everything in that moment, but I could control my mind: what it focused on, and how I would frame that focus. I gave thanks, quietly,almost not believing the words myself, until they became real. Until I believed them myself.
God meets us when we give thanks
Scripture tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people: “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3)
Like my story I shared above, there is an incredible exchange when we choose to give thanks to God no matter what. My mind was weak, but I knew there was purpose in worshipping and thanking God for exactly where I was at. God is in constant pursuit of our gaze and attention. We get to choose when and how we acknowledge and see Him.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 5:20)
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
A prayer for you
God, thank you for creating us as your treasured children. Help our hearts long for you, your presence, and the life you’ve crafted for us. I pray that this reader’s heart receives a deposit of hope, joy, and satisfaction in you. As your word instructs, help us to give thanks in all things by reminding us of your nearness and presence with us.