Who has noticed, or participated in any of those “10 things I’m thankful for” type of campaigns on social media? They seem to be growing in popularity. I haven’t taken part, but I’ve enjoyed reading some of my friends’ posts about what they’re thankful for in their lives.
Gratitude has become a buzzword in motivational skills, positive thinking, and as a help for depression. Participants are encouraged to keep a “gratitude journal.”
That’s a very good idea. But the question is this; Who are we grateful to?
Who are we grateful to?
If a motivational skills instructor who doesn’t believe in God is teaching a group of people who also do not know God, to be thankful – who is that thankfulness directed to?
I can understand that a grateful attitude, in a general sort of way, could help a person to change negative thinking patterns, however the Bible also instructs us to be thankful. The kind of thankfulness the Bible teaches isn’t an arbitrary, attitudinal, general gratitude. It’s very specific.
Our deepest thankfulness belongs, first and foremost to God.
While it’s always good to say thank you to your husband for washing the dishes, your wife for ironing your shirts, your parents for supporting you through college, your friend for standing by you through thick and thin, our first thanks should be directed towards God, by way of actual, verbal praise.
There may be times when we feel that there’s not a lot to be thankful for. “Life happens”, doesn’t it?
But that’s the thing – does life just happen? Or does the Bible not tell me that I have a Heavenly Father who reigns sovereign yet lovingly directs my steps?
Romans 8:28 tells us that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose; If I really believe this, then surely that means receiving with a grateful heart even the things that don’t feel so good at the time.
I love the way Psalm 146:1–10 expresses this “attitude of gratitude”:
“Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord . I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord!”