“Just Be Thankful,” She Said
“Whoah, I’d rather not write down a list of things I’m thankful for.” The counselor’s eyebrows went up in disbelief. Was this newer believer that bitter? “Can you explain why?” the counselor asked slowly.
It turns out that, as a life-coach a few years ago, she was very much into these practices of making gratitude lists. She was well indoctrinated with self actualization methods and had taught people about harnessing energy by expressing thankfulness. Now, as a believer in Christ, she had a different goal of serving Christ instead of channeling internal energies. She wanted to forget that life.
Being thankful, and expressing thankfulness, has become an important mantra in multiple self-help fields around the world. Believer or non-believer, it doesn’t matter. Being grateful, forging new neural pathways of thanks in the brain, is now being strongly promoted as part of well being. Who you direct your thanks to is not important, many would say. All that matters is that you are thankful.
To Whom Are You Thankful?
Does that matter?
Yeah, it does. A LOT! Being th(i)nkful is not just learning to think thanks in every circumstance in your life; there are two additional components involving God, one coming and one going:
- It first involves downloading grace from the Lord to stop, think and recall things to be thankful for;
- It secondly involves uploading thanks directed at Him from whom all blessings flow and who is Sovereign over even the negatives in your life.
We are to be thankful FOR. But even more, thankful TO! To thank is to throw credit to someone else; to return a favor with words. Acknowledging who is responsible for everything that you are thankful for is KEY in thinking thanks.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a present and not giving it to someone.”
William Arthur Ward
Directing our thanks to God is what sets a believer apart from an unbeliever. Anyone can be thankful and it reaps wonderful benefits in our minds and even bodies. But directing our thanks to God is what the Lord has asked of us.
When the scriptures exhort us to be thankful in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18) or to give thanks always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20) that gratitude needs to be directed to Him. Because I can trust His sovereignty and His ways, I can then, in response, think thanks and express it to Him in trusting obedience.
Lilac Breasted Rollers happen to be my favorite bird. I love to see them in the savannah. When I think and express thanks for that precious bird, I must direct that thanks to the creative God who created it using almost every color on His pallet.
He is the One I give my thanks to.
When I realize that I am choosing to give thanks to God, the worldly exercise of making gratitude lists to produce positive energy loses its power. I am not just thankful FOR, but more importantly thankful TO.
I thank You, my God and my Father.