The Art of Gratitude
It’s in Our DNA
In all things, we must give thanks. It is part of our DNA as human beings that we be grateful. If I eat a great meal in a restaurant, I want to thank the server and the chef. It’s just natural! If someone gives us a beautiful sweater for Christmas, we want to say thank you.
If someone scores a touchdown for our team, what are we doing when we stand up and cheer? We are showing our appreciation. If someone wins a gold medal, or overcomes a daunting deficit to win, we jump up and down. We are thankful to be a part of that historic moment.
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Intimacy has a voice, and we need to be vocal in our praise and gratitude. Thanksgiving is not just for the Thanksgiving weekend; it should be an everyday occurrence.
I believe that real intimacy with God cannot be hidden. It transforms us. To get there, however, we need to press into communion and praise. We have to live with a heart captured by God.
Appreciation is often a tool God uses to draw us closer to Him. When we enter His presence, He usually tells us something He loves about us. He is very good at being grateful – and we need to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in that.
Thankfulness is the Door to God’s Presence
God’s blessing should propel us into thanksgiving – our excitement over what He is doing must manifest itself in gratitude. Thankfulness is a test we need to pass every day of our lives. Whether life is good or bad, we always have something to give thanks for.
Many Christians have been conditioned to think that they enter God’s presence with prayer. But Scripture is clear that thankfulness is the door to His presence – “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name,” says Psalm 100:4.
Whatever happens, we must thank God for the set of circumstances we are in. I’m not saying that we must thank God for something horrible that has happened – Christians are not called to be masochists. However, we can thank God that He is always with us.
Rejoicing in God gives us the opportunity to hear Him. When we enter His presence with thanksgiving, we open more of ourselves to His voice. When we want to know God’s will for a situation, we begin by giving thanks.
Thankfulness Helps Us to Remain Happy
Probably two-thirds of the rest of the world would change places with us in the west – in a heartbeat – no matter how poor our lifestyle. To many, we are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Count your blessings; there are so many things to give thanks for.
If we struggle with being grateful to God for what He has given us, chances are we will be ungracious to people in how we live our lives. It is disciplines like gratitude, thanksgiving, praise, and worship that keep the presence of God fresh and alive in our hearts.
This is a fundamental spiritual truth that can re-shape and re-ignite our personal time with God. By entering His presence with praise, not petitions, we learn how to adore God. Our hearts become full of constant, continuous worship. We are people called to be happy in God; if we don’t have joy in our relationship with Him, how can we expect anyone else to?
As a Christian, who would you rather be represented by – the most miserable swine on earth, or the happiest person in the world? This is the very choice God faces! Nobody wants to be represented by someone who is glum and miserable.
Always remember that thankfulness helps us remain happy in God.