Psalms 28:7, “The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”
When I served as senior pastor, I had an associate pastor who began most prayers with, “Thanks God” and would proceed from there. It caught my attention because gratitude has long been a personal core value. It is a quality that keeps me anchored. I am fully cognizant that my life is the composite of the fingerprints of all who have affected my life as well as the fingerprint, or touch, of God on me. Maya Angelou said, “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayers.”
Have you ever noticed it’s not the misfortunes of life which destroys men? For every person destroyed by the crucible of life’s challenges, there are those, who suffering the same and worse, have been propelled to succeed and achieve. For one, it’s a spiral downward; yet another, it’s upward and onward. Dark emotional acids of bitterness, resentment, hatred, fear, and an array of sour emotions threaten to corrode the soul until hope is abandoned and raw, irreconcilable pain remains.
Gratitude is the “Ph balance” against the acid of hardship and adversity. A neutralizer is required to stop the corrosive forces of acid and a grateful heart is a good neutralizer. There is positively no way to insulate yourself from the difficulties of life. There is; however, a countermeasure found in the positive nature of gratitude. Etymologically the word traces its roots back to “grace” which, in turn, is rooted in God Himself. Gratitude, then, makes us Christlike.
So Thanks God….for being my God. Phil 4:19, “My God shall supply all your needs…” The phrase, “my God” appears 151 throughout His word. God must become personal to you. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not an historical God. He is the God from generation to generation. At the age of 19, Christ became my God and what a journey it’s been. The wonder of Christianity is that God desires a relationship with us.
Thanks God…for caring. What a mystery that the God of the universe cares for humanity and not in mass but as individuals. With extraordinary attention to detail, if He cares about the minutiae of how many hairs populate your head how much more the condition of your soul, the affairs of your life, the destiny of your future. Revelation says He will wipe every tear from our eye. That’s caring.
Thanks God…for coming to me. Metaphorically, our prayers go up to God; and He comes down to us. That is the centrality of the gospel – He reached down His hand for me. Thus, our hope – God comes down, way down, as far as it takes. The Father, when he saw the beaten down Prodigal, RAN to meet him, embrace him, kiss him, love him, accept him. Your smallest move towards God will be met by a greater move by Him.
Thanks God…for changing my life. Our God is a transforming God. The exchange He offers is not a transaction of equal value. For our rags, a robe of righteousness. For our ashes, beauty. For weeping in the night, joy in the morning. The spirit of heaviness?, a garment of praise! For brokenness, restoration. For sin, forgiveness. In every instance, what we give up is valueless in exchange for what is infinitely valuable.
Thanks God…for making life better. The promise to the Israelites was to leave behind a land of suffering, abuse, and hardship in search for a land of “milk and honey”. Milk symbolizes the things that sustain us; honey, the things that make life sweeter. Our wonderful God sustains and sweetens life.
The thanksgiving holiday is upon us. It shouldn’t be a holiday. It should be a lifestyle. Real gratitude brings takes us from thanksgiving to thanksliving!
So how do you complete the phrase, “Thanks God….”?
Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org