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Say “Thank You”

November 28, 2013

Psalm 89:15   Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your Countenance.

From a very young age, most of us were taught to say “thank you” when given something.  Saying “thank you” was an act of obedience regardless of whether we understood, liked the gift or even wanted to be thankful for it.

Likewise, throughout the Holy Scriptures, over and over and over again, we are encouraged – even admonished to “be thankful,” (always) as a spiritual act of obedience. AND, after all, it makes sense that we should be thankful for God’s blessings of which there are many, and come in a variety of ways and means.

But there can be a difference in the obedient act of “saying thank you,” and “being thankful.”   I guess there is a philosophy or concept that if you say something enough (out of habit or ritual), sooner or later it becomes a part of your life.  But even so, just because you do something because you are expected to do it, does not necessarily mean that it reflects what’s in the heart or what one believes.  It does not mean that you “own it” as your own.

That’s my cynical side coming out … I know.

I’m not trying to say that people are not thankful when they receive a gift.  I think generally they are!  Instead, I’m presenting the idea (for further critical thinking) that perhaps we take “thankfulness” for granted, and we need to “search our hearts” to ensure that we are truly “giving thanks with a grateful heart.”

From Jesus Calling (November 24) by Sarah Young, the first sentence in the devotional stated, “THANKFULNESS takes the sting out of adversity.”  We are supposed to “give thanks” and “be thankful” regardless of how we feel, and regardless of our circumstances. When we’ve experienced “adversity” it is very easy to be thankful for deliverance from it, though we are not always mindful of being thankful when we are in the midst of it.  That’s the gist of what I’m trying to say.

We are to focus on God’s Presence always, so that our attention is not on the adversity or the problem … so we can feel JOY in His Peace, and Presence and this Place in life. It is a difficult practice to apply, but I do know it to be true.

However, I think the key to “being thankful” regardless of the circumstances is “the Relationship” that one has with the Giver.

Trusting the Lord with all my heart, leaning on His understanding and not my own (Proverbs 3:5), and knowing/believing that His plan for my life is good (Jeremiah 29:11-13), and knowing how much He loves and cares for me (John 3:16), are essential, evident and even easy in the kind of relationship that produces a truly grateful heart.  I can recall, reflect, recount all the blessings He has provided and more joyfully submit to the obedient act of being thankful.  I want to be thankful for His Presence.

Without such a relationship, the “people-ness” sets in.

Pride, prejudice and preferences take over. There was a time when I thought that “receiving” something as a gift, would and should automatically prompt “thankfulness.”   But I’ve learned that this is not the case at all. The “people-ness” of this reality always goes back to the “heart” of the matter.

A grateful heart … is a heart that “gives” and “receives” through a trusting relationship!

One of my favorite books is Wild At Heart by John Eldredge.  In the book he poses the question of how can we trust a Creator or a God who does “wild things” or requires man to do or say things that seems completely illogical, or contrary to living a safe, normal, productive life?

The answer is that you trust Him when you know His heart … and knowing His heart requires relationship.  Too often we tend to measure God by our own half-bushel … so the thankfulness, or “grateful heart” that we should have and practice is filtered through the faulty grid of our greed, pride, and the human experience with each other which can be based upon speculation, suspicions and selfishness.

Over the next few weeks, there will be much giving and receiving going on. Many thanks will be expressed … while at the same time, much adversity and/or stress will be placed on relationships, bank accounts and personal health (mental/physical/emotional).  The “busy-ness” of it all will cause time to feel spent, or even wasted, without relishing the contentment that the “giving” was meant to evoke.

Soon enough, we’ll all wake up to a January morning and be “grateful” that it’s all over … and the ‘idea’ we had of thanksgiving will not even be a memory because our focus will be on the next big thing.  We will have slipped past the blessed moments for hearing and knowing the “joyful sound” … and walking/talking/basking in the Light or relationships from a “grateful heart.”

Let us each be “thankful” … not just in word but also in deed.  But moreover, let us take pause to consider and appreciate the core, the trust, the nature of the relationship rather than simply for the provisions or tangible manifestations that come from it.

Let us each give and receive with a grateful heart … not because it’s what we are supposed to do … but because we are truly grateful!

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