Four Things happen when we have a Thankful Heart
There is an unmistakable power always at work when we live with a thankful heart. I’m sure more can be added to this list, but I offer you four to consider.
#1 — A Thankful Heart increases our awareness of God’s purpose.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).
God is good all the time; all the time God is good. We are assured over and over by the full weight of Scripture that God’s hand, though often unseen, is working “all this together according to the counsel of his will”(Eph 1:11).
When we live with a thankful heart our eyes open so that we may know with calm assurance that God is working for our good — even in the midst of something that is really bad.
The Bible says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Th.5:18). Everything? Yes, everything. This means while we are going through something — good or bad — we give thanks while we are IN it.
We do not curse or complain, for that opens us to the destructive power of bitterness. And that can destroy our souls, and bring great sorrow to many others.
This brings me to my second point.
#2 — A Thankful Heart keeps us from the destructive influence of bitterness.
The Bible says, “Make sure that no one misses out on God’s wonderful grace. Don’t let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you” (Heb.12:15).
Oh, how many thousands of stories can be told about the destructive power of bitterness in families, businesses, churches, and teams! One bitter person can unleash a poison that destroys thousands of lives.
Job said, “I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11). That’s what bitterness does: it complains. Bitterness quenches joy and makes one critical and mean-spirited; hell-bent on depriving others of blessings. It dominates the mind, disrupts the conversation, destroys friendships, and spreads discord among others.
When we live with a thankful heart — even in our darkest, most trying moments – God gives us perspective and peace.
King David wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” He concludes by saying, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (see Psalm 119:67, 68 and 75).
Afterwards, he bursts forth into song, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!” (Psa 30:11-12)
Every experience in life makes you bitter or better. A thankful heart always takes us along the path of that which is better.
#3 — A Thankful Heart prevents us from falling into pride.
While bowing our heads before God shows reverence, there is also something redemptive about doing so. It holds us in a place of humility.
Matthew Henry, the famous Bible scholar was once accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse. Afterwards, he wrote these words in his diary:
“Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed another.”
This is a worthy example of choosing wisely. He could have been bitter, and complained to the Lord about the unfairness of the situation. He could’ve become angry and carried an offense that would make his suspicious of any travelers he might encounter on his journey, which would have closed his heart to them lest they assault him as others had done.
Instead, he turned to God in humility, and gave thanks. Thus he was saved from the pitfall of pride and anger. As for the robbers, we can be sure that God’s justice tracked them down and they paid dearly for what they had done. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19)
Thanksgiving and Humility go hand in hand. God is pleased with both.
#4 — A Thankful Heart permeates our circle of influence with faith.
Thanksgiving is the highest expression of faith there is, especially when it is offered during times of distress and difficulty. Thanksgiving looks beyond momentary afflictions, convinced that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18).
A Thankful heart is focused upon God; a bitter and ungrateful heart is absorbed with its problems. Thankfulness lifts our vision and builds our faith. It causes us to become an influential encouragement to others who are struggling with life’s difficulties.
Paul wrote, “Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be blameless and innocent. You will be God’s children without any faults among people who are crooked and corrupt. You will shine like stars among them in the world as you hold firmly to the word of life.” (Php 2:14-16,)
As we are thankful – even in the midst of great difficulties – God “leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (2 Co 2:14)
Are you the kind of person that brightens up a room by leaving? When others see you coming, do they turn aside to avoid an encounter with you so as not to be criticized, corrected or condemned?
Or, are people drawn to you so as to be near somebody who can help them experience God’s presence? Do you repel people from Christ, or attract people to Him?
In a Peanuts cartoon, Snoopy is getting dog food for his Thanksgiving Day dinner. He stares at the bowl and talks to himself.
“How about that? Everyone is eating turkey today, but just because I’m a dog I get dog food.”
He then trots away and positions himself on top of his doghouse and concludes, “Of course, it could have been worse, I could have been born a turkey.”
There is always something we can be thankful for; find that one thing and start there. Give thanks to God….and watch how quickly your list will grow; and how dramatically your life will change!
Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness to always work things for our good. Forgive us when we let hurt, anger, and bitterness sour our minds and turn our hearts away from trusting You.
Renew our vision so that we may see beyond the circumstances that trouble us. Let us instead catch a glimpse of the good that You are bringing after we pass through the test. Give us thankful hearts. In you precious name we pray amen!!