Being Thankful All Year Long
by Zack Howard
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. (Ps. 7.17)”
Around this time of year, we focus more on what we are thankful for. We have a national holiday dedicated to that act. But why is the focus on being thankful more prominent at this time of the year? The Bible teaches us that we should constantly be thanking God for all he has done for us.
Thankfulness needs to be constant: God has constantly helped out his people (Exodus 13.17-22; 1.9,13), and his people often showed gratitude to God for doing so (Jonah 2, 1 Chron. 16.8-36). When we look back through the Bible, we can see the theme of thankfulness everywhere, and we should follow their examples. Rather than wait until the end of the year to be thankful, we should be thanking God always for what he does for us. When we look at how he’s blessed us—with his grace, with salvation—our gratitude should be pouring out. If we are constant with our thanks, then it will show up in all areas of our life.
Being constant with our thanks means being thankful during hard times as well. In 1 Samuel 2, Hannah prays to God thanking him for a child—even though she was going to give the child up. Hannah understands that God has blessed her and saved her from her distress—even though it meant she had to give Samuel up. How easy would have been for Hannah to mourn giving up Samuel, rather than thank God for the blessing he did give her? Like Hannah, we need to thank God at all times in our lives—not just when our prayers are answered or when life is going well. Our gratitude must be a focal part of our lives, through all the ebbs and flows. When I was a kid, my parents always reminded me to say thank you after anything and everything, because they wanted me to realize the importance of gratitude, and the worth of what I was given. When we realize the worth of our blessings, it should be easy for us to be consistently thankful.
During my younger brother’s cancer treatments, he always showed thankfulness for his circumstances. He always reminded us that he had reasons to be thankful, that even during his trial. When we show this kind of gratitude, we understand that God is still there during the lows, just as he is during the highs.
Thankfulness needs to be sincere: When I was a child, there were times I was told to be thankful, but my gratitude wasn’t truly sincere. If gratitude isn’t sincere, then is it truly gratitude? In Psalm 9.1, we read: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” David writes that he gives thanks with his whole heart, and so should we. Without sincerity, our gratitude is empty. If we gave a gift to someone, and they responded with a thank you, but we could tell by their body language that they weren’t thankful, don’t we feel that the thanks is empty? If we feel this, then why would we be insincere with our gratitude? When we look at how God has blessed us, then being sincere with our Gratitude should be easy.
If we are constant and sincere with our gratitude, then we are:
—Finding ways to show our gratitude: whether it be in our prayers to God, or our actions, we should be showing our thankfulness always.
—Counting our blessings: we have a hymn that we sing that is all about counting our blessings. When we examine what God has blessed us with, then we will see how truly blessed we are.
—Finding ways to be worthy of the blessings: In Colossians 1.10, we read: “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” While we can never fully repay the grace God shows us, we can live a life where we work to show our gratitude. When we live as examples of Christ, then we are walking in a manner worthy of the reward—showing compassion and love to all, living by our faith rather than giving in to temptation.
Everything in life isn’t always going to be good. However, we must be gracious in all aspects of our life—because God has blessed us with so much. If we remember this, then our thanks will be constant, consistent and sincere.