Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Psalm 147:7
But if we are to take the Bible only literally, I’m in big trouble because I don’t have a harp. And if I did, I’m not quite sure from the verse above if I’m supposed to stand upon the harp or not when I’m singing praises to God. Hey, just kidding.
Fortunately, another Psalm says we only need to make a joyful noise when giving thanksgiving to God…
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with
I can certainly do that. Some people say I have a nice singing voice, but sometimes when I hit a wrong note singing a hymn at church, I’m grateful that God hears in tune even if I miss a note. More importantly, He hears the joy and gratitude in my heart.
We are also supposed to thank God when things are not all roses and sunshine. Jonah learned this when he tried to avoid going to Nineveh to preach God’s message of repentance. You know the story. He ended up in the belly of a great fish aka “the whale.” And guess what, he finally decided it was time for a little soul-searching prayer.
If you were inside that fish for three days and three nights I would imagine you would come to the same conclusion and pray your heart out.
You can read all of Jonah’s prayer, at least the part recorded in the Bible in Chapter 2 of Jonah.
I think it’s interesting that as soon as Jonah got to the point of offering up thanksgiving to God and vowed to be obedient it was then and only then that God commanded the fish to spit Jonah up on dry ground. Here’s that part of the prayer…
But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. Jonah 2:9
Think about that. Even in the “belly of hell” as Jonah called it, he found something to be grateful for.
Have you ever been in the belly of hell, felt like a whale of a problem has swallowed you up? Sometimes we get there because we have disobeyed God and sometimes we get there because of what others do to us. Either way, it’s time to follow Jonah’s example and pray to God with thanksgiving.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18
Did you ever read the book The Hiding Place by Corrie Tenn Boom? If not, I highly recommend it. There is a scene when she and her sister are moved from one German prisoner of war camp to another during WWII. The new barracks are just as disgusting and miserable as the previous ones with one additional misery: lice or something like that. Corrie despairs over the lice, but her sister says that they must thank God for the lice referring to the verse above from I Thess.
Corrie thinks that is absurd. But as it turns out, because of the lice, the German guards do not come back into their space and they are free to conduct their Bible study (which had been banned).
So it never hurts to Thank God in every situation whether it seems good or bad to you. Frankly, I would be pretty hard put to thank God for lice, but it was those lice that gave them the freedom to worship God more freely and study the Word uninhibited. Something to think about.
Is there something that is really irritating you right now, something or someone who is a thorn in your side? Well, try something a little different this Thanksgiving season. Thank God for that situation or person. This may be hard to do, but it is an opportunity for you to trust more in God to solve all your problems. And who knows, maybe that thorn in your flesh you have been complaining about will be the very stepping stone to spiritual progress and freedom just as the lice were for Corrie and her sister.
When do we give thanks?
Most of us usually thank God after He has done something for us. But we even forget to do that sometimes. Remember the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed. Only one of them came back to thank God. I like to give the other nine a little benefit of the doubt and assume that at some point they remembered to thank God. But Jesus commended the one who did it instantly.
Jesus set the example for us to follow. He often gave thanks before something good happened. When he fed the 5,000 people and when he raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus offered prayers of thanks to God before he accomplished the deed.
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: John 11:41,42
We can pray with that same sense of gratitude and expectation that Jesus had. He expected us to follow him in every detail of our lives.
Are you buried in the “tomb” of some problem with no seeming hope of escape. Sounds like Jonah a little bit, doesn’t it? Well guess what, it’s time for gratitude. Time for a lot of gratitude. Jesus’ prayer was not complicated, it was simple and to the point: “Thank you Father for hearing me. I know You always hear me.” That is a good place to start.
I think it’s interesting that Jesus didn’t thank God for answering his prayer but just for hearing it. Jesus knew that his Heavenly Father would indeed answer the prayer because it was offered in sincerity and had the purpose of glorifying God and helping people understand that God had truly sent the promised Messiah to the world.
In other words, don’t offer prayers of gratitude with secret hopes of personal gain. Our prayers must be for the glory of God. God will then give us whatever we need and will glorify us better than we could ever glorify ourselves.
There are so many other examples of the importance of gratitude and thanksgiving in the Bible. But I will stop here.
I hope this Thanksgiving that you will find new ways to thank God for his many blessings and all the opportunities He has given you this year.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.