Giving Thanks

Oct 9th 2017

During the thanksgiving holiday, we focus on our blessings and express our gratitude to God for them. But thanks should be on our lips everyday. We can never say thank you enough to parents, friends, leaders and especially to God. Thankfulness should be a continuous everyday part of our lives.  When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of your life, you will find that your attitude towards life will change. You will become more positive, gracious, loving and humble.

We have much to be thankful for in our lives. Because of that we need to take time and effort everyday to express thanks to God.  Thanks can not be expressed on our behalf by someone else. We ourselves are the best person to express our own thankfulness to God . This thought is expressed in scripture. “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” – 1 Chronicles 16:8

To often we focus on the bad things that happen to us and not on the blessings we have. In Numbers chapter eleven the people of Israel were not thankful to be out of slavery. They complained about the poor food they were getting, which should make us reflect on ourselves and our behaviours. Do we belittle and put down all the things we have been blessed with? Are we grateful for what God has given us or are we thinking about what we would like to have? As Christian followers we need to develop an attitude of  thankfulness for what we have. Sometimes we need to be not only thankful for the “roses” and the beautiful things in our lives but also the “thorns” we experience in life.  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18) We must learn how to give thanks in every situation we face in life. Our thankfulness should not fluctuate with our circumstances or feelings. This is illustrated in a story about the “Blessing of Thorns”.

Have you ever thanked God for the thorns in your life? This is what the story is about. A women named Sandra who has been struggling with some personal issues in her life does not feel thankful at Thanksgiving. She enters a flower shop for an arrangement. The clerk asks her “for Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favourite I call the “Thanksgiving Special?”  The clerk adds “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” Before they can continue their conversation several customers come in asking for this “Thanksgiving Special” To Sandra’s somewhat horror, the “Thanksgiving special is long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the flowers of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there are no flowers! The  special is a “Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” Sandra can’t believe anyone would pay for this. The clerk goes on to explain the struggles she had gone through and how she turned to God and learned to be thankful for thorns in her life.  Like so many people she had always  thanked God for the good things in her life and never questioned the good things that happened to her, but when bad stuff hit, she questioned God why it happened! The clerk goes on to explain that it took time for her to learn that dark times are important. Experience shows that “our thorns” in life make “our roses” more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. We must also remember that, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love.  We can’t resent the thorns in our life. In the end Sandra decides to get the “Thanksgiving Special”. The clerk tells her the first years “thorny bouquet” is on the house. The Clerk hands Sandra the special card that goes with it to read. This is what it said. “My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the difficulties I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have drawn closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.” We praise God for our roses but we need to make sure we “thank” Him for your thorns!

In everything good or bad we must be thankful. In 1 Chronicles 16: 7-36 there are four elements of true thanksgiving.  Remembering what God has done, telling others about it, showing God’s glory to others and offering gifts of self, time, and resources. If we are truly thankful our life will show it.

The appropriate response to a gift or a blessing is to say ‘Thank You,”  This is true for our salvation through Jesus dying on the Cross. We become Christians through God’s unmerited grace, not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service on our part. However, out of gratitude for this free gift, we should seek to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness, and not merely to please ourselves. While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, God’s intention is that our salvation will result in acts of service. We are not saved merely for our own benefit but to serve Christ and build up the church. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. For God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:8-10) Thankfulness is the proper response to salvation and should move us to action. “Therefore, since we are receiving the kingdom of heaven that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”. (Heb 12:28)

There are five ways we can be thankful; We can be thankful that God answers prayers (Isaiah 65:24; John 11:41) We can be thankful for God’s provision for our needs (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18; 1 Timothy 4:4-5) We can be thankful for God’s blessings (1 Chronicles 16:34; Philippians 4:6) We can be thankful for God’s character and wondrous works (Psalm 7:17;2 Corinthians 9:15; Revelations 11:17) And lastly we can be thankful for our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3-5)

If we sit down for a moment over this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I am sure each of us can come up with a long list of things that we can and should be thankful for. Hope within that list might even be a few thorns that each of us have.  But being thankful and giving thanks extends past just Thanksgiving weekend. Giving thanks should be a year round activity. As Christians we must be thankful and faithful every day.

Matthew R. Marshall