My eyes closed to rest last night and as is my custom I reviewed the day prayerfully – the wins, the losses, the encounters, my response to the Spirit. Thanks came easily as I remembered ministry, worship, joys of shared prayers and songs of another Lord’s Day. Though I have a life that is full of good, I confess that not every evening prayer is like that. There are nights when that phrase, sacrifice of praise, comes into focus as I struggle to let go of those areas where I feel lack, where it feels like I have lost. Oh, yes, sometimes my inclination is to beg and complain more than to offer thanks for the day.
Ann Voskamp wrote a book on gratitude, One Thousand Gifts. She takes an old message and makes it fresh urging a new awareness of a life of thanks. Ann is not just asking us to be polite, to ‘mind our manners’ so to speak. She tells us that gratitude is at the heart of a life that honors and enjoys the richest gifts of God. Ann does not write out of life that has been perfectly whole, that has known smooth sailing from the beginning. She has lived with brokenness, struggling with experiences that could have left her embittered. But, in response to God’s call, she chose to offer one thousand gifts! She writes “Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” “…life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.” I love her focus, not just on thanks for good outcomes and sunny days, but on the very Person of God.
This Thanksgiving week, some of us will look back over a year when we got that job we wanted, when our kids made the Dean’s list, when our marriage sparkled with romance and intimacy and words of gratefulness will spring quickly from our lips, as they should! Some of us will remember a year of disappointment, our best efforts met with apparent failure, our walk with Christ less a thing of joy than a hard choice of obedience. But, will we look past our experience to give thanks to Him for Who He is?
Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth encouraging them to a generous life, reminding them of the importance of planting seeds, of taking a view that sees beyond the moment to anticipate a ‘harvest of righteousness.’ He speaks of the grace of God that has changed their lives and says this: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)
As we begin this Thanksgiving week, will you actually give thanks: authentic, heart-felt, God-honoring thanks?
Pause to look deeper than the ‘score card’ of your life – the wins and the losses – to the Person of God. Perhaps your praise will be offered with tears or maybe it may be full of laughter. Both are common to our human experience, but God is worthy of our thanks regardless. He is not just a good God when life is good. Ann offers this encouragement to thankfulness. “How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can’t I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy- and seeing shows the way in.”
Tell your Father of your thanks –
for His love shown in Christ,
for His patience in times of apathy or disobedience,
for His infusion of the Spirit’s’ life in a culture of death,
for the eternal Unchanging Nature that is not affected by the fads and fashions.
And as you focus on HIM, my prayer is that thanks will overflow. Here is the word from the Word. “But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! ” (Ephesians 1:17-19, The Message)
Great is Thy Faithfulness,
O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy Compassions they fail not!
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!”
“Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!