Worldwide Thank You’s
“Tusen takk,” the Norwegian man called over the fence to a friend who had been a big help. “A thousand thanks.” Precious words expressing a thankful heart were thrown out to the recipient. He hoped that the receiver would understand how grateful he was.
Moving south to Egypt, people also want to acknowledge that they have received thoughtfulness from others.
“Shukran,” the woman said to her friend as the friend kindly helped carry her bag and listened to her sharing hard things in her life. That is the Arabic word for thank you, from shakara meaning “to thank.” She might also say thank you by saying “tislam,” meaning “may things come out safe or healthy for you.”
Heading southwest we land in Indonesia, where they have a lovely way to articulate thankfulness.
“Terima Kasih,” the Indonesian man said as he sped by on his bicycle, followed by his broad smile with pearly white teeth. He expressed his gratitude for moving out of his path. He had a heavy load to carry to market. “Terima Kasih” literally means I receive your care.
It is interesting to dig a little deeper to learn the actual meanings of the phrases cultures use to say “thank you.” From the Norwegian “Tusen Takk,” meaning a thousand thanks, to the Indonesian “Terima Kasih,” meaning I receive your care, each language articulates it differently.
I Receive Your Care
Autonomy is a self-sufficiency that says I don’t need anything. I am good by myself. This is a prevailing attitude among a large portion of people, especially in Western cultures. When you stop to truly say “thank you,” you are saying that you were not enough. You needed help. You received help. You received care from someone outside of yourself. You are expressing that you are thankful for what the other person did to help your deficiency. For the poor and the sickly, that’s not hard, but for many people, it’s not easy.
We were taught from childhood that you need to say thank you when you receive a thing or receive help. It isn’t just a proper thing to do, it is a people skill a person needs for life, and a discipline that reminds my own heart how many of my needs have been met by others.
Some people whose lives didn’t turn out as they had hoped, begin to see the glass half-empty, externalizing blame and internalizing credit. “Others haven’t helped me; they need me to help them.” They scan for the imperfections and deficiencies in all things – people, plants, homes, cars, schools, children, food, politics, society, and the list goes on. A byproduct of such a heart attitude is that thankfulness falls away. We become adept at wanting more and different, but not so keen on identifying received care.
What Do YOU Receive?
It takes conscious thought to consider what one has received. You must meditate and acknowledge. This is why the English words think and thank are related. It begins by realizing our Creator God is the One who has made us and sustains us with our heartbeat and air to breathe on a continual basis. But it continues downward to acknowledge the people and things around us that give us care and kindness. When you begin searching for reasons to throw credit to others, your thankfulness seems to grow. There is so much we have received, and so many that deserve our thanks!
“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”1 Corinthians 4:7
I love different languages and cultures and long to be at the Throne of God all worshiping together with our varied backgrounds. There is a common thing that all of us humans have, however, and that is our ability to think thanks and to covey that thanks in verbal or written form to the one to whom it is due. Foremost, we give thanks to the One “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We are constant recipients of His care. But we also need to admit to others that we have received their care and say thank you.
Get in the habit! Do it genuinely and often.
“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)