Elementary-school thanksgiving instructs us to “offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). In effect, we say to God, “You helped me, and I thank you for it. My obligation has been met.” It’s good that we’re doing what’s required at this level, but we shouldn’t expect a lot of joy to flow from our perfunctory thankfulness.
High-school thanksgiving is better. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In every situation, you and I can always make the decision to be thankful for something. Yes, always. This gratitude does produce joy—as long as you’re not going through anything too difficult.
Graduate-school thanksgiving leads to real joy. “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20). This goes beyond the high-school course that seeks to find a good aspect in a challenging circumstance. This is thankfulness that trusts God and is even grateful for the things you would not choose. It’s gratitude that promises victory in every circumstance.
Whatever our situation, by faith you and I need to get to the place where we allow the Lord to draw out genuine thankfulness from our hearts. This means true gratitude for everything he allows into our lives. That kind of thanksgiving delivers a depth of joy that cannot be experienced any other way. —James MacDonald walkintheword.com
Thank you, God, for the good things you’ve given me. Thank you for your grace that allows me to see your hand in hard times. Thank you, God, for this difficult thing that you are using in my life. You’ve allowed it because you love me, and I trust you.