Giving thanks to God is a choice we have to make every day. We can focus on life’s challenges and struggles or we can focus on God and trust that God is with us every day.
Sometimes, we feel that we can not find any reasons to give thanks to God. May be we are experiencing these scenarios:
Too caught up with other people’s lives
With our finger tips, we can peer into a friend’s life through social media: the birth of a baby, the wedding anniversary celebration, a new lover, a job promotion, a new handbag, an online shopping haul, a slice of mouth- watering cheese cake they had, a stylish café they were in…it is so easy to crave and lust for what they have and despise what we have. If we are always comparing ourselves to our friends, we will not be grateful for all that we have.
Too busy in the day to pause and enjoy what we have
Some of us work long hours. If we are not intentional in taking a few minutes each day to pause and give thanks for what we are enjoying: clean water, electricity, the fact that we are healthy and alive, we have a roof above our heads and food on our table. In our pursuit in life, we may not realise how much blessings we are receiving from God. His blessings is overflowing (Psalm 23:5).
Too overwhelmed in life
We may be at a point in our life when we are overwhelmed: our family, our job, we may be unwell, or the need to take care of a loved ones, all these contribute to stress in our lives.
The root of bitterness is still in us
Always playing the victim robs joy from us. If we are always thinking we are the victims, and others are to be blamed for what had happened to us, we will only feed the bitterness, resentment and hatred in us. Let us let go and move on.
Instead of focusing on our circumstances, let us turn our eyes to God. He will open our eyes to see His greatness and faithfulness, and how He is with us every moment of the day. He provides for our needs. He protects us in our going out and coming in. He is our refuge whom we can run to when life gets overwhelming. He gives us courage to face the challenges each day.
Why shall we cultivate a heart of thanksgiving?
It reminds us the purpose of our existence
Each of us is wonderfully and fearfully made by God our Creator (Psalm 139:14). We were created for a purpose. We do not just live for ourselves. One of the greatest joys in life is to love and be loved in return. To love others, we have to take time out of our schedule to care for a friend, or walk an extra mile for someone in need, but it is so worth it, to know we are loved in return.
There is more to life than wanting what others have and crave after them. There is more meaning in life than working hard for self-glorification, power, money and fame. Power, money, fame are never the answer or solution to our lives’ problems.
It reminds us of Who God is
Our God didn’t just create us and let us be. He longs for a relationship with us. Being the good Father, He cares for us and provides for our daily needs.
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
Take time to enjoy God’s creations around us and you will experience a deep joy in you: the plants in our garden, or the clouds in the sky, the breath-taking shades of colours during sunset, the fluttering butterflies, the smell of the earth after the rain, the faces of our family members or our pets’. Our God is a creative God. He creates all this wonderful nature for our enjoyment and for His glory.
It reminds us what matters in life
Our children certainly do not want our money or how powerful we are in our company. What they want most from us is our undivided attention as we spend time with them. They want to see our examples in how we navigate challenges in life. They want to see how we treat others and love others, including the marginalised. Our parents would want us to spend time with them, either a phone call or a visit, than receiving gifts from us but never see us.
The joy of the Lord is our strength
Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength”. We are not exempted from problems in life but God is our strength. When we find joy in Him, we will experience His strength to go through each day. Not only that, He gives us wisdom to navigate through our challenges. God too, encourages us to move forward when we fall. He forgives our mistakes and gives us grace to start again.
What to give thanks to God for?
In 1 John, the disciple says straight out that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to save us from death and sin (John 3:16). He does not want us to live our lives without knowing Him. He loves us and sees us before we were in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He has great plans for us. His love for us is so deep and wide. Ephesians tells us:
“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”(Ephesians 3:17-18)
The psalmist also reminds us to praise God because of His love endures forever and it is unfailing.
“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind…” (Psalm 107:15).
Jesus Christ is the expression of God’s love towards us. While we were yet sinners, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. He suffered for us so that we will know how much He is willing to give His life for us so that we might live. His blood cleans us from our sins. Jesus is the only way we can go back to God.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)
God’s Word is the Bible. It is inspired by God the Holy Spirit. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
God’s Word not only tell us who we are, whose we are, what our future will be like, it always teaches us how to live our life: our relationship with God and His relationship with us, and our relationship with others.
God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light on our path (Psalm 119:105). It illuminates our path so that we will not grope in the dark but walk in light and in the likeness of His Son, Jesus.
You may have heard that Christianity is not for the lone rangers. It involves a community of fellow believers. They are there to pray for us, to encourage us in our spiritual walk, to have wholesome fun with, to keep us accountable as we move on in holiness, and to journey with us in our live journeys. We have laugh together through the good times and we cry together during times of sadness. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
His plan for us
Etty Hilleseum (1914-1943), the Dutch author who was killed in Auschwitz concentration camp said, “Despite everything, life is full of beauty and meaning”. God has a wonderful plan for us. His plan may not be what we have imagined but it is always exciting to where God is leading us: His path is the best path for us. As His children, we are to walk in holiness. We may be sticking out like a sore thumb in the world because our lifestyle is in contrast with the world’s, but may God use our time, resources and life for His glory.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
May it be that we are so overwhelmed by His love that we will always give thanks to God for His love, goodness and faithfulness to us!