“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23
Thankfulness is a trait that not many people are born with. It is a lesson we learn repeatedly from birth until death. It can be something we struggle with from time to time and even have long periods in our lives when we don’t think about it at all. As children, we are taught to say thank you when something is given to us but that can be just a learned reaction without ever really understanding what being thankful is. As I grow older I am consistently remind in day-to-day life all I have to be thankful for. It is a reminder that is deeply tied to contentment. To realize that every need has been met by Christ. That every good thing is a blessing from God. It is when I come to the place where I know I deserve nothing but have received so much that an attitude of thankfulness cannot help but take hold.
On a typical night at our house, when my daughter has brushed her teeth and hair, has had her bedtime and bible story read and cuddled for a little bit, we pray. As she has grown from a toddler into a little girl the prayers have developed greatly from the simple to more of a focus on thankfulness. This has been such an intentional aspect of our prayers because I often see attitudes in her that oftentimes are a direct reflection of myself. When my relationship with Christ is not first priority my contentment with life always becomes oft-kilter. Things that should have no bearing on life seem to carry great importance. I would believe I needed a certain thing to be content. More equals better. My attitude would slip into one of entitlement rather than one of thankfulness. And when this would happen I could usually look to my daughter’s questions and attitudes to quiet any doubt about the stumble off the path. The reflection is always humbling and usually heartbreaking. Am I not teaching her to be thankful for all that God is and has done for us? The prayers now center around thanking God that we can know him. That he has blessed us with food, shelter, and a home. That we are thankful that God has blessed us with our family. At dinner we always give her the chance to pray. Her once very simple short prayers have grown to include thanks for many family members each by name (including the cat and dog), and I realize that she gets it.
We see in Psalm 50 verse 23 how God really views giving thanks. It is the sacrifice that honors him. In giving thanks we are humbling ourselves before God and giving him the honor and glory for all things. We are admitting that what we are thanking him for could not be achieved without him. We are showing our utter dependence on him for everything. It is in this act of giving thanks that our pride is broken down and we come to rest in him who provides our needs. We grow more content. Philippians 4:6 states, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” When we pray at night I am always reminded of this verse. We need to thank him for all he has done.
On Thanksgiving we are reminded of all we have to be thankful for. We may reflect on the year that has passed and focus on loved ones who have gathered together. My hope for us is that we would begin to have an attitude of thankfulness everyday. That it would soak into every fiber of our being. That we would begin to thank him for all he has done.