Since the Bible is the most published piece of literature in human history, and because I personally trust in it explicitly, I decided to do a thorough biblical study of the word “thanks” in all its various forms (such as thank, thankfulness, thanksgiving, thankworthy).
Let me summarize what I found and then connect it with the event in this picture that took place just last week.
Out of the 135 references I found in the Strong’s Concordance, 67 came from the Old Testament, and 68 from the New Testament. Let’s hit a few highpoints.
The references in the OT begin with the Lord’s thanksgiving offerings which were voluntary and were to express thankfulness to God in Lev. 7:11-21. God designed giving thanks as an essential part of the way His chosen people should worship Him. As the years and the prophets went by, we can also see that whenever there was a revival, a time of cleansing and restoration in Israel, thanksgiving was an integral part.
The Psalms have the most references to thanks of any book in the Bible – no surprise there. When the psalmist was in distress, discouraged, or overwhelmed, he often poured out his heart to God. As he began truth-thinking about God’s character and promises, his perspective changed and his thoughts were filled with thanksgiving toward God.
Moving to the NT, Colossians has a verse dealing with thanks in every chapter. In fact, chapter 3 has three verses in a row (3:15-17), where three Greek words are used that are each connected to being thankful. Check it out.
The strongest verses, Ephesians 5:20 and I Thessalonians 5:18, actually command believers to give thanks in all circumstances.
- “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
- “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:18).
This is just a small sampling of all the verses I found, but such a strong foundation for pursuing being th(i)nkful. I am cultivating thinking thanks not just for His glory, but also because my Creator has designed this thinking pattern for my benefit. He wants me to look for the things that I can be thankful for in every situation that comes my way.
There will be times that are heart-wrenching and stretching in my life. I am to think thanks right then, even through the tears. There will be times when I feel like dancing because I am so happy. I am to think thanks then, but that will be easy. However, most of life will be in between these extremes, the vast stretches of mundane, everyday life, but even then, all the time, when I wake, and when I go to sleep, I am to think thanks.
I want to end this post with a story from a former student named Sarah. She and her husband Austin are very precious to David and me. She had an eventful birthday on May 4th, a stormy day just last week. This is how she described what happened after she left work that day:
I feel that I need to proclaim God’s grace and goodness. After not being able to leave due to trees down on the road, I came back to the house. I had just walked into the living room when we heard cracking and a massive crash. Walked outside to see this [picture above] where I had been only moments earlier. We don’t always know why God spares us from things like this, or why he doesn’t at times. But like Austin says, there are no other alternatives. No “what if’s,” or “if only’s,” we can only trust that if we knew everything He does, we wouldn’t change one thing (used by permission).
Sarah was being th(i)nkful. She was thinking thanks in the middle of a very frightening and difficult thing. Rather than bemoaning the destruction of her car, worrying about insurance claims, or how she would get to work, her thoughts went quickly to giving thanks to God.