Thanking God at mealtime is “saying grace.” This comes from the New Testament’s word for gratitude. It means “good grace.” When you say grace you’re saying, “Lord, this meal is grace and your grace is good! Thanks!”
The New Testament also teaches us that saying grace in the sense of thanking God isn’t just for mealtimes. We’re to thank God as often as an athlete says “You know” in a postgame interview. “Give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
In All Things Give Thanks
In our last post we looked at making a New Year’s Resolution to change our self-talk in 2017. In this post we’ll look at another resolution we ought to make. That’s the resolution to obey God by thanking him always and for all things.
We’ll look in this post at four of the “all things” for which we’re to be grateful and in our next post (Lord willing) at how The Christian Attitude of Grace Focused Optimism enables us to make and keep this resolution.
1. We’re to be thankful for blessings we usually take for granted.
Take the mercies greeting us every morning. We wake from a good night’s sleep. A day crammed with Grace Pleasures stretches before us. We prepare for it with the conveniences of indoor plumbing, soap, and shampoo. Freshly brewed coffee and scrambled eggs fuel us. A car in our garage waits to take us to our job. All these trade wind mercies blow from the tropics of grace. And they blow every day: “Your mercies are new every morning and your faithfulness is great” (Lamentations 3:33).
So, quit taking them for granted. Start taking them with gratitude. Greet every new day with saying grace! “Lord, I thank you for bringing me safely through the night. I bless your name for the good gifts of a shower with Head and Shoulders and Dove body wash guaranteed to make me smell good all day. The Folgers in my cup and whole wheat toast on my plate are nice too. Thanks!”
2. We’re to be thankful for life’s fender bender nuisances and annoyances.
You’re stuck in traffic. Instead of fuming thank God for this opportunity to grow in patience. It’s 4:45 PM. You can’t wait for the 5 o’clock whistle to blow. Then at 4:50 the boss drops a report on your desk. “I need you to clean this up before you leave today.” The clean up will take at least 45 minutes. But you don’t frown before your boss’s thoughtlessness; you smile before your Lord’s sovereignty. You thank him for this opportunity to become more like Jesus by walking the second mile. Your hot water heater decides to retire. Replacing it’s going to siphon the money you’d set aside for that set of Callaway irons you want. But instead of fretting you thank God that you’ve got the money to cover the replacement.
Treating life’s minor cuts with the antiseptic of gratitude is the best way to keep them from the infection of grumbling.
3. We’re to be thankful for our head on collisions with trials.
In the 1945 British election, Winston Churchill’s Conservative Party is routed by the Labour Party. The great man is no longer the Prime Minister. His wife Clementine tells him, “This may well be a blessing in disguise.” Churchill harrumphs, “It seems to be very effectively disguised.” Sorrows, disasters, and heartaches are blessings so effectively disguised that looking at them with the naked eye makes them seem curses. Still, the Bible tells us from Genesis to Revelation that they are blessings.
So, we’re to “count it all joy when we meet various trials” (James 1:3). And one of joy’s activities is gratitude.
4. We’re to be thankful for God’s abounding goodness to us in Jesus.
In fact, one of the marks of growing into Christian maturity is a deepening awareness of the pearl of great price we have in Jesus. Anne Lamott says the three essential prayers are “Help, Thanks, Wow”. With all due respect to this gifted sister, I believe the better sequence is “help, wow, thanks.” God’s grace to us in Jesus is his help. The essence of his help is his commitment of all that he is to making us all he wants us to be. In other words, through Jesus the Lord God Almighty has assumed full responsibility for our temporal and eternal welfare.
The more you recognize how good it is of God to do this for you, the more you find yourself saying “wow.” And the more you’re wowed, the more you’ll thank him.
We can sum this up in this way: Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, but a lifestyle.
So, I leave you with two questions:
Do you regularly thank God for everyday mercies, minor annoyances, trials, and his goodness to you in Jesus?
If not, why?