When my kids were young, I taught them to make vegetables and fruit a regular part of their diet because I knew those foods would benefit their bodies. I probably sounded like a recording: “Eat your veggies. Eat your veggies. Eat your veggies.” I didn’t want to be a nag, but I understood the long term value of their developing healthy eating patterns.
Just as I issued the “eat your veggies” command over and over for my kids’ benefit, so God commands His kids to give thanks because He knows the benefits to us if we develop this thinking and behavioral pattern.
“No matter what happens, always be thankful for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus,” wrote Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Easier said than done sometimes, right? But always the desired and necessary response according to God’s Word.
Thanksgiving actually changes our brain as we focus not on our circumstances but on the One who controls them. As a result, we feel hopeful and peaceful rather than overwhelmed or filled with despair. We begin looking for—and seeing—positive lessons and outcomes amidst our pain. We gain a sense of expectancy as we pour out our heart to God and trust Him to come through for us. Overall, we experience greater calm in our minds, emotions, and bodies—and that benefits our health.
Giving thanks isn’t our natural response when everything within us screams, “Why is this happening to me? Life’s not fair!” It is, however, the response that honors God. Why? Because it proves our choice to trust His wisdom and ways even though we don’t understand (or necessarily appreciate) them. It shows Him that we’re surrendering our natural inclination to seize control. We’re accepting His offer to carry our burdens and desiring to experience His rest.
God considers our need to develop the discipline of thanksgiving so vital that He makes it a caveat to answered prayer:
“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory” (Psalm 50:14,15 NLT).
Giving thanks doesn’t come naturally to most people. That’s why God repeats His command over and over. He really wants us to “get” it because He knows its value to us. I’m intentionally making thanksgiving a part of my daily routine. How about you?