Ps 100 A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Serve YHVH with gladness; come before His presence with singing. …Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For YHVH is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
This psalm gives us the reason to be thankful: God is good! He has made us His people, and He is worthy of our praise. Very simple: those who know who the true God is are to be people who know how to be thankful. As believers in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, He has even given us His Spirit to enable us to be thankful even when there seems no good reason to be.
I read something an older person wrote on the internet which blessed me because it is clear that this man or woman appreciates the life – the new life, the abundant life, the eternal life – that God has given through the forgiveness of his/her sins. This is what he/she wrote:
“In everything give thanks!!! Yes, even with an illness such as bipolar we can be faithful and obedient and give thanks!!! I give thanks to all of you who have shown your thankful hearts! May God bless you for your obedience and faithfulness. May you be as encouraged by others’ thankfulness as I have been!!! May you be blessed with the knowledge of something new to be thankful for today! Praises to our King in Heaven, God the Father, to God the Son who came to pay the price of salvation, and to God the Holy Spirit who lives in us, comforting and encouraging us, sealing us for all eternity reunited with God!!!”
Thankfulness takes our focus off the problem (or off our own self or needs) and places it on the One who can solve the problem (or who has solved it or given help, etc.). Whenever I speak with Eila, Assia’s mother and Esti’s grandmother, it blesses and encourages me in my faith in the Lord. She always expresses thanks and praise to Jesus, despite very much physical and emotional pain in her life. It is humbling for me: will I be thankful under similar circumstances of life? In giving thanks to someone, we relate to that person as God’s servant. We acknowledge a human being created in the image of God doing something worthy of God, to whom we give thanks for all things in any circumstance. Paul the apostle gives himself as an example for us to be strengthened through faith to give thanks through suffering for Christ’s sake. We relate both vertically and horizontally as human beings – unto God and unto one another.
Gratitude is more than a simple word of appreciation for food we are about to eat, or as a polite response when someone has helped us. Both those things are good and right, but we have been called to be a thankful people. Thankfulness is an attitude, a spirit deep within the Spirit of God that spills over, flows out to those around. It is the good fruit of someone who KNOWS what the Lord has done for him/her on the cross.
In a study done a few years ago on the attributes of gratitude, researchers (Robert Emmons from UofCal-Davis, and Michael McCullough from U of Miami) considered how an attitude of thankfulness influences our emotional and physical well-being. Their report included these observations:
–Participants who were accustomed to remember things each week for what they were thankful reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the coming week compared to those who remembered their hassles or neutral life events.
–Participants who remembered the things for which to be thankful were likely to make more progress toward important personal goals (academic, relational, health).
–Participants accustomed to giving thanks daily were more likely to report that they helped someone else with a personal problem or that they offered emotional support to another.
–Thankful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, and optimism, and lower levels of depression and stress. This disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. The study noted that grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.
The research indicates that those who are thankful experience a healthier sense of well-being.
Col 2:6-7 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
We want to give thanks today to some people who work hard that do not always get thanks as they ought. It is important to say, so that there is no misunderstanding: we do not do something right or good IN ORDER TO receive thanks. But it is always right to give thanks – to God always!; to human beings usually.