I have a sign in my family room that says: “There is Always Always Always something to be thankful for.” And while I know it’s true, I’ll be honest, I don’t always feel like being thankful. (Like um, last Tuesday.) BUT the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Stating in matter of fact fashion that being thankful is God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So, well, I best be giving thanks.
But this doesn’t mean I walk around with a fake smile plastered on my face. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sad. It doesn’t mean I can’t cry or struggle or wish things were different.
It simply means despite my circumstances, I still agree, God is good and faithful and worthy of praise. A statement even more breathtaking in the wake of a broken heart, don’t you think?
But there are benefits to this thankfulness thing. It isn’t just for kicks God urges us to “Give thanks” sixty-two times in the Bible. Buffering our Christianity with verses like, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15, 20).
Specifically, I thought of twelve noteworthy benefits. (Feel free to add more!)
- It Rights Relationships. I think you’d agree, it’s hard to stay mad at someone when you turn to God in thanks for them. The seeds of a thankful heart are able to overtake the roots of bitterness any day.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)
- It Gives Light to the Heart. To give thanks is to blaze a pathway for righteousness. It readies the mind for more, but ingratitude is an avid partner in turning one’s back on God.
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22)
- It Makes Unbearable Circumstances Bearable. Do you know what Christ did the night before he was crucified? He gave thanks (Luke 22:19). An unbearable situation was made bearable because Christ set his mind on one thing and one thing only – the Father.
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
- It Silences the Enemy – Satan holds no power over a heart full of thanksgiving. As a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving focuses our attention where it should be, on the provisions of the Father. While self-pity puts us right where Satan wants us – defeated, disappointed, doubtful, and despairing.
“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2; NIV). And if a child can silence them, just think what the conscience choice of thanksgiving on the heels of heartbreaking circumstances might be able to do!
- It Glorifies God – And there is no greater accomplishment. Nor is there anything more fulfilling.
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)
- It stills anxiety – Oh but the bitter bite of anxiety is fierce. Stealing any sense of control we may feel. BUT to be thankful in the wake of uncertainty is to embrace a heart of peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
- It Shields Against Other Sin. Psalm 86:12 When I’m giving thanks with my whole heart there is little room for much else. But when I’m grumpy or bitter or moping around like a sad Eeyore (think Winnie-the-Pooh) the flood gates swing wide for a wide array of sins.
“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me.” (Psalm 86:12-13a)
- It Helps Us Remember. When we give thanks, we tend to remember a little better who God is and what He has done. But a thankless heart is a heart that’s forgotten who God is compared to who we are, and yet he died for us anyway.
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)
- It Leads to Joy. When I stop and consider all the blessings I’ve been given in Christ, how can I not be joyful? And I don’t mean the kind the kind of joy that comes with opening a fresh box of Lucky Charms. I mean the kind of joy that permeates even the hardest of days.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)
- It Gives Way to Contentment. To be thankful is to nourish contentment. And to be content is to recognize God is a faithful provider.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)
- It Teaches the Next Generation to Do the Same. Truth be told, if we don’t live it, they won’t either. But if we live a life of thanksgiving, giving praise to God for everything, so will they.
“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psalm 79:13)
- It Brings Us Together. Tragedy may bring people together, but it’s thanksgiving that keeps them together.
“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)
In addition, Proverbs 15:15 says, “The cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” But I dare say the feast begins with thanksgiving.