23 Nov 2016
With God, thanksgiving is not just a one-day affair, but rather it is a daily part of giving Him the worship He so deserves. With this thought in mind, I’d like to share five requirements for us to give thanks.
Giving thanks requires humility
For one to even begin to give thanks, humility is required. However, this challenges those who think they have it all together. In their thinking, it is an absurd idea to trust in God or to even believe in Him. These individuals have a hard time thanking God for any reason. They’ve chosen to believe that they are self-made men and women, who’ve created their own breaks, and therefore any success they’ve achieved has been by the power of their own wisdom or ability.
God views such individuals as proud, arrogant, haughty, and beyond receiving instruction, input, or correction. God says of this prideful group that He knows them from afar off (Ps. 138:6). He states that He keeps an eye on them that He might bring them down (2 Sam 28:22).
However, God promises those with a contrite and humble spirit that they dwell with Him in the high and holy place (Isa. 57:15). Of the humble, He says He will exalt them and lift them up (Matt. 23:12, Jam. 4:10). The humble know that despite their finiteness, neediness, and inadequacies that God loves them and receives them. They realize that without God they can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).
The humble are able to see God working in, through, and around their lives on a regular basis. Thus, they stand ready, willing, and able to thank God multiple times daily. In fact, thanking God is a regular part of their normal everyday existence.
Giving thanks requires discipline
God asks us to bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Him and to offer it of our own free will (Lev. 22:29). It’s one thing to thank God when everything’s going great and the sun is brightly shining on your parade, but, it is quite another thing to give thanks when the wheels have fallen off, and it seems your very life is in a shambles.
Paul said, “in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
I believe God is saying giving thanks is a matter of our will – remember He asks for it as a free will offering. He calls it a sacrifice of thanksgiving because sometimes you can hardly muster up the emotional and physical strength to do it.
When the sky is falling and we choose to give Him thanks, He views this as a sacrificial offering made out of love for Him. It requires determined discipline to push our problems aside, to shelve our worries, to ignore our pain or suffering, so that we might lift our hearts, hands, and voices to Him in thanksgiving.
Giving thanks requires us to rise above our circumstances
Life can be so very tough at times. We all face troubling situations, extenuating circumstances, and in some cases intense crisis scenarios. Of all people, Job represents one saint who suffered catastrophic losses over a short period of time. I’m sure each loss brought a fresh wave of shock, causing him to stagger backward in stunned disbelief as each new report came in (Job 1:13-19).
Despite his losses, which included, the enormous wealth he had accumulated over the years, Job also lost his seven children, in one devastating moment. How did Job respond? He tore his robe, fell to the ground, and worshiped God, saying; “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21-22).
In the midst of his intense loss, grief, and suffering, Job rose above his current circumstances to continue to bless the Lord and give thanks to His name. In his heart, he knew that all that the wealth and resources he had amassed, and even the children he and his wife had brought into this world belonged to God.
Rising above his losses Job knew that only God had the power to heal his broken heart, comfort his pain and restore him. So in the midst of his misery, he continued to give honor and thanksgiving to the Lord. And we see that indeed God did restore to Job twice as much as he had before his losses (Job 42:10).
Giving thanks requires us to examine the goodness of God
Unfortunately, some haven’t taken the time to consider the goodness of God. It is written that the earth is full of God’s goodness (Ps. 33:5) and that His goodness endures forever (Ps. 52:1). The Psalmist cries out, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:8).
Sadly, most of man-kind takes God’s goodness for granted, because they have experienced it since the day they were born. No one has ever pointed it out to them. When one considers that the whole earth, and everything, and everyone in it, belongs to God (Ps. 24:1, Job 41:11), then dawns the reality, that without His goodness, we could not even exist.
For example, the air that we breathe, the bodies we live in, and the ability to intellectually and emotionally process ideas so we can freely make wise decisions, are all gifts He has given to us. The success of every person is contingent upon the gifts God has given each one of us. Is it not He that has given us the gift of life, the gift of free will, and the gifts that draw us into certain careers, vocations, and professional fields?
Having set in motion His creation, God provided the perfect climate controlled conditions for various people groups to inhabit the earth. He has given us the sun and moon to guide us by day and night. He has given us the four seasons, that we might experience the glorious transformational wonder of His creation. Through the gifts of His creation our heavenly Father teaches us about His nature, actively displaying His truth, faithfulness, steadfastness, and consistency.
Paul asked his fellow believers; “what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7) Furthermore, he asks, “do you not know that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). When one stops to realize that we have been surrounded by the goodness of God, from day one, then repentance is in order. Repent for what? We must repent for not regularly giving thanks for the many gifts granted by the goodness of God!
Giving thanks requires us to transcend messages that shake and shape the world’s masses
God’s word says, “the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth” (Prov. 17:24). One definition of a fool is “a person who has been tricked into appearing silly or stupid.” Satan is a deceiver, continually trying to trick us by stirring up negative, distressing, and trying events worldwide. He tries to keep us focused on things that will evoke fear, despair, and hopelessness in our hearts.
A second definition for a fool is, “a person who lacks sense or judgment.” The enemy of our soul does all he can to shake our sensitivity to God and to get our eyes off of His almighty power and great goodness.
If he is successful in doing so then he can move us from giving thanks to God to drowning in the dread of a fallen world.
Therefore, we must do all in our power to transcend the trials and turmoil of our earthly existence and pursue God’s peace by entering His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and our mouth. (© Copyright 2016 Ivan G. Doxtator )
Ivan and Linda Doxtator
First Nations Counseling Ministries
Rev. Ivan Doxtator