Thanksgiving Day has passed, but I’ve been impressed in recent years that giving thanks and expressing gratitude is to be an everyday pursuit. I confess too often I complain about circumstances in my life rather than looking for reasons to give thanks. Once I start focusing on gratitude, I find so many things to be thankful for. Today, as I read again a blog I posted in November of 2010, I’m reminded that giving thanks is something which lifts up the Lord and pleases Him. I pray God will continue to help me grow in having a grateful heart.
Here is that blog from nine years ago, with a song added.
Recently as I was studying the Psalms, I ran across a verse I hadn’t noticed before. It said,
“I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30 AMP
When I read the words “magnify Him with thanksgiving,” I thought of how I instead tend to magnify my problems with complaining. At those moments, my problems seem huge, and God seems smaller than He actually is.
Here the Word was telling me how I could magnify the Lord. It wasn’t with doing lots of jobs for God, but through having a grateful heart and speaking out my gratitude–to Him and about Him.
After studying surrounding verses in this psalm, I realized gratitude can have a huge impact on my relationship with the Lord and in helping to draw others to Him. It’s simple to sincerely express gratitude when everything is going well, but the person writing this psalm said in verse 29:
“I am poor, sorrowful, and in pain…”
Something wonderful happens when I give thanks to God despite the poverty in my soul that I feel, and despite the pain and sorrow I’m facing. Not only does gratitude do a work to transform me, but people around me who notice my difficult circumstances almost study to see how I will face them. When I have a grateful rather than a complaining or bitter heart, I notice they marvel at that–especially those who don’t know the Lord.
I asked God after reading this “thanksgiving” verse why it was so hard for me to have a grateful heart. One reason that came to mind is perfectionism. I’ve come a long way in the battle against it, but wanting things perfect can keep me from thanking God and other people. I focus on what’s wrong rather than on all that’s right. Often this comes out on holidays because I want things to be just so.
Today as our family celebrated Thanksgiving together, there were things that didn’t come out right in the dinner we ate, but I was able to let it go and enjoy our time together. There were also many things in my family and extended family that could cause my heart to ache all day if I dwelled on them. I could see how far I’ve come in not “going there” and in not trying to make people and situations perfect through my schemes and efforts, thinking this would finally bring me to the point of gratitude.
I can be grateful no matter what’s happening in my oh so imperfect life, because I have a perfect God who loves me perfectly and wants only the best for me. Somehow all that is imperfect in my life is working toward perfecting my relationship with Him.
And so right now I choose to be grateful to God–for all He’s done for me and in me. I thank God for blessing me with a marriage of 35 years and for two beautiful daughters and a lovely granddaughter. I thank God for providing for my financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs for all these years. I thank God for using me as a writer to reach hearts and lives with His truth. I thank God for all the good He’s brought out of bad in my life.
There is one thing I know about expressing gratitude. It is found in in the next verse in Psalm 69:
“…it will please the Lord…”verse 31
Even though I have a ways to go in learning the art of a grateful heart, pleasing Him is my heart’s desire. How wonderful it is that we serve a God who can be pleased with us. There’s yet another something to be grateful for.
What about you? Are difficult circumstances or perfectionism getting in the way of expressing gratitude? Thank God anyway and see what a difference it makes.
“Give Thanks” by Don Moen