“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders,” (Ps. 107:31–32).
“Did you say, ‘thank you’?”
Momma’s hand pressed my shoulder, turning me toward the woman standing with us. I turned my face up and momentarily met eyes with her, “Thank you.” She smiled, “You’re welcome!” I returned the smile and pulled the new doll tightly into my chest.
Why is saying “thank you” so hard for us?
Especially as children, it is a lesson learned, not often a natural response. The older we get and the more we understand the value of things, it becomes easier. But if you’re like me, when it comes to the Lord, I can forget to give thanks. This is bad news. Forgetting to thank the Lord is forgetting His will for my life. As Christians, we spend our lives wanting to know, “What is God’s will for my life?” We buy books, ask friends and pastors, and take tests designed to help us discover His will for us in particular. Let me help you:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thess. 5:16–18).
Ta-da! You’re welcome.
What is God’s will for you? Rejoice, pray, and give thanks. When? Always, without ceasing, and in all circumstances. We can always rejoice in God’s goodness and steadfast love toward us. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and thus is not dependent upon certain conditions. It is rooted in the imperishable, unchanging, and unconditional. As long as we have the Spirit, we can have eyes to see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living (Ps. 27:13). And in seeing, we can rejoice.
Prayer sharpens our sight. It puts prescriptive lenses on our spiritual eyes. An open line of communication with the Lord allows us to “cry out” in our distress and short-sightedness and to hear and see His response. When I am consciously aware of God’s presence and am in conversation with Him all throughout the day, inconveniences become opportunities, disappointments become an occasion to trust the Lord’s sovereignty, hurts become a chance to extend the forgiveness extended to me through Christ, fears are overcome by His love for me as His child, and happiness overflows into praise. It’s not easy, and it’s for sure not natural, but it is essential to the next part of His will for my life: to give thanks in all circumstances.
Gratitude Is a Response to Grace
This is where I want to camp for a while—giving thanks. The refrain of Psalm 107 is this: let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man. Each occurrence of the refrain comes after God’s deliverance of the people in distress—after those in the desert are led to a city to dwell in, after the prisoners’ bonds are broken, after the foolish are delivered from their own destruction, and after those caught in the storm are brought to their desired haven. Gratitude is a response to God’s grace. Karl Barth explains:
Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice of an echo. Gratitude follows grace like thunder lightning. . . . We are speaking of the grace of God who is God for man, and of the gratitude of man as his response to this grace. . . . The two belong
When we rejoice always and pray without ceasing, we have eyes with lenses adjusted to count God’s grace and respond with its echo—gratitude. Our
"Sometimes He wrings the worship from our hearts." There are times when worship overflows easily and effortlessly from a heart full of gratitude and praise. Yet, there are other times when God seems far and we feel we have nothing left to offer. We are tired, or thirsty, or imprisoned in our own chains through our own devices, or caught in the waves of a tumultuous sea.
This is when God shows us His steadfast love. He wraps His eternally powerful, ultimately creative, nail-scarred hands around our hearts and squeezes with appropriate might—yielding an honest plea for Him to save us and deliver us from our circumstances, fears, and