- Rev Wanda E Lawrence
The Power of Gratitude
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever”. NKJV
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” NLT
Psalm 118: 1-4
“Thank God because he’s good, because his love never quits. Tell the world, Israel, “His love never quits.” And you, clan of Aaron, tell the world, “His love never quits.” And you who fear God, join in, “His love never quits”. THE MESSAGE
I have often stopped to ponder this question at different times in my life. When do we usually express our gratitude and thankfulness to God? For many unfortunately, it is only in the good times when things are going our way, but as Christians the Word of God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, that we are to “in everything give thanks”. Yes, this means also in our times of trial and life storms. We are to give thanks. I have come to realize that we can always be thankful for who God is. God’s love, faithfulness, protection, providence and grace are always with us, meaning we are never alone, even when it appears to us that we are. The Hebrew noun- TODHAH comes from the common verb of praise “yadhah”, which means “to give thanks” or “to confess”. TODHAH as the name may suggest involves a sacrifice, perhaps of unleavened bread as we see in Amos 4:5, made with the purpose of giving thanks to God. But more commonly both the verb and a noun preferred to be an action of offering, a verbal praise to God usually in worship. Psalm 50:23 declares that “those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honour me”. Thanks, or Thanksgiving can be a verbal song of praise to God, as we also see in Psalm 100. (1)
Thanks, may be offered either for God ‘s character, His repeated actions that show His love and mercy towards us, or for some specific blessing or act that God has given to us, such as, our deliverance. In the New Testament the noun thanksgiving is “Eucharisteo” and the verb means to give thanks. In Greek “Eucharistia” described the attitude of thankfulness. In the New Testament however thanksgiving is, as in the Old Testament primarily praise spoken or song given to God. (2)
Gratitude to me is in essence, is the strict awareness and thinking about God, which results in, an act towards God of gratitude. Both the Greek verb and the noun have at their centre the word “charis” or Grace. (3) God grants, us His grace and it is so sufficient, that we humans cannot help to respond with thanksgiving.
The Word of God found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) instructs us to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As I stated earlier, being thankful in the good times is perhaps not so hard when things are going our way. But when we are having a wilderness experience and cannot see the path we tarry on, this is when our faith must be exercised and evident. This past year for me has been one that consumed me with significant losses. I have experienced the necessity, due to my health to leave God’s ordained position as a Pastor in September, then the decline and subsequent death of my beloved Mother last November. I have experienced grief in a way that was so profound, all I could do was cry out to the Lord. The Word of God has become my fortress and strength and His Grace has sustained me through it all. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
God has provided me with faith, His Word, a loving family, good friends and love in my life, that allows me today to have a testimony of “How I Got Over”. It is because of grace and mercy, that my soul has been renewed and my faith remains secure. When I was in that valley and began to have feelings of self pity, I would open up my gratitude journal and write down five or more items that I was thankful for that day. This exercise helped me to take the focus off of myself and place it on the One who is my Redeemer, Sustainer, Refuge and Lord. The One who paid the price for my liberty! Expressing my gratitude would lift my heart into a sphere of praise and thanksgiving, taking me to an intimate experience, in the Presence of God. Indeed, our Lord is worthy of our love and praise!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 118:1 NKJV
I pray that as you write down five things that you are thankful for tonight, regardless of your circumstances, you will lift up the name of the Lord with praise.
As you enter into a time of prayerful thanksgiving and ask God to open up your heart to His mercy, may this experience help you encourage someone else.
1 , 2 & 3 (Doob Sakenfeld, Katharine, General Editor; The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (S-Z) pgs. 546-547).