I reblogged Dr Hamilton’s post about why gratitude is good for you, certainly there are positive physical effects when we are grateful. Too often we are not just ungrateful, we are envious and resentful of what others have. The ninth commandment is quite specific about coveting what others have.
With just a few days before Thanksgiving we should also discuss being thankful and also how we are blessed. Henry Blackaby gives a good definition as to how a Christian should be thankful: “Thankfulness is foundational to the Christian life. Thankfulness is a conscious response that comes from looking beyond our blessings to their source. As Christians, we have been forgiven, saved from death and adopted as God’s children. There could be no better reason for a grateful heart!” (Henry and Richard Blackaby “Experiencing God Day by Day” p 324). I might add that not only are we saved to eternity which is huge by itself, this gives us the hope that we are living for a purpose, that even in suffering we know that God sustains us, He provides for us, He is watching over us and even in the “worse case”, death, for those who are saved in Jesus, death delivers us to be in His presence. But we shouldn’t just skim over what God does provide for us, that we are kept safe. Sure there are times where we have less than others, there are times when we are sick, injured and even seriously incapacitated. But when you think of the possibilities it is remarkable that for the most part we are kept so healthy and capable.
I often point out that the Book of Revelation tells us that at some point in the end times, God does remove His protective hand. If we think there is evil now, just imagine what it will be like when God takes His restraining hand away and the evil that is unleashed. Blackabys write: “We, too, have been healed and made whole by the Savior. We are free to enjoy the abundant life the Savior has graciously given us. Could we, like the nine lepers, rush off so quickly to glory in our blessings without stopping to thank our Redeemer. … Our worship, prayers, service and daily life ought to be saturated with thanksgiving to God (Phil 4:6) (Ibid p 324)
Blackaby goes on to point out that we should also remember our blessings and I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to say that I faithfully recount my blessings and remember what God did for me. I’d like to say that … One way I try to be pro-active is to record in my journal the circumstances that brought on my need, the way God responded and the way that my situation is worked out by God. Even now I have a tough time thinking of specific incidents, but I know that there have been so many times and each time I often sit back in amazement and I always think “wow, I would never have seen this working out that way. Glory to God for His greatness, His wisdom and His mercy.” Even when things don’t play the way I think they should or that does cause me loss, I still always understand what God is doing and that it is ultimately for my own good.
The Blackabys point out that our blessings often come in what seem to be “ordinary” ways and our attitude is “gee, that was nice, glad things worked out” and don’t really take time to see God’s hand. Our Gospel reading for Thanksgiving this year is about the ten lepers. Jesus healed them all, how many came to tell Jesus how grateful they were? One, one out of ten. Today, even for us in the church, even ten percent is probably a high percentage. Appreciation in the form of telling others how much you appreciate them and offering them encouragement. I get encouragement once in awhile and often won’t really appreciate what was done. I know that I need to show more appreciation, encouragement and blessing for those around me, that I minister to. But I too often fail to do that. It does not seem hard to understand that when we bless others we show gratitude to what God does for us, and what others do for us, but most importantly be grateful to God.
We need to show gratitude, we need to show it in public, grateful to God and to those that God has put in our life. In addition, yea, we should break out that journal and write about how God has blessed us, what happened and what God did in response. We should take some time to be in wonder of what God did, what He does, and the promises of what He will do. We should go back through our journals and re-remember what God did, I should be a lot better about relating in my sermons how God has blessed me. Too often we skim over the blessings and spend too much time whining and complaining about what we think we should have, what we feel we’re entitled to. In this time of Thanksgiving let’s focus on being grateful for the things that we often take for granted and let go of what we think we are entitled to.
Happy Thanksgiving (again don’t call it Turkey Day or I will snap). Have a great time with family and friends and take some real time to tell them what you are grateful for, especially our Lord and the family and friends He’s given us.