Showing gratitude is basic, down-to-earth, good manners. Saying “thank you” after someone has served you in some way should be as natural as taking a breath. Like the tip you leave your waitress/waiter at the restaurant, it’s just the right thing to do.
If a child submits a timely “thank you” to an adult, you will see heads turn and mouths fly open! No matter how young the child is, the polite tyke gains respect with their elder that transcends age and wisdom. Suddenly, for a split-second, the child becomes an equal. It’s an astounding thought when you realize that this happens in response to a simple, two-word phrase, “thank you.”
Here’s the issue at hand. A spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving transcends polite manners; it is more than genteel formality. Gratitude releases an energy—a power, if you will, that positions you to be better than you were before you verbalized it. As the title suggests, gratitude is a force!
The word thanks and thanksgiving are used 120 times throughout Scripture. Further, it’s a common thread we read in the Psalms of David. “I will give You thanks in the assembly; Enter His gates with thanksgiving; It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” As King David established his government, it says he designated certain men, morning and evening, “to give thanks to the Lord.” This principle was of such importance that he hired men to say “thank you” to the Lord, all day long.
The legendary king was not just being polite or mannerly. This spirit of thanksgiving was rooted in his soul. David was a grateful man. Thus, it was no coincidence that the sweet singer of Israel was also a successful military strategist. David’s grateful spirit made him sweet—but it also made him and his nation a force to be reckoned with throughout the ancient world.
America became a similar power using the same principle. In 1621, our pilgrim forefathers paused amidst the turmoil of settling this new land. It was said that there were more graves to bury their dead than huts to house their living. They left England to pioneer a land of freedom, but in the beginning, freedom eluded them and disease plagued them. Death was their companion.
As stated, in the midst of their trouble, after gathering in a scant harvest, they paused and gave thanks. Thanksgiving we call it. It was a harvest season tradition they brought with them from Europe. But here, it moved beyond mere formality—more than sheer ritual. This was a sacrifice they chose to give despite their hardship.
As far as I know, America is the only nation that proclaims a day of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Is it any wonder that America, like David and ancient Israel, continues to be a force to be reckoned with?
Likewise, for you and me, a grateful heart becomes equally powerful when we consistently offer thanks. This sacred act becomes especially potent when offered in the midst of life’s contrary circumstances.
Furthermore, I am convinced that thanksgiving embodies a spiritual law that God established in creation. Just as surely as the law of gravity draws us to the ground, the law of thanksgiving positions us to draw better situations into our life as we say “thank you” for the blessings we have.
Indeed, favor rests upon those who live in the spirit of thanksgiving. The Bible records how ten lepers came to Jesus asking for mercy. Scripture says, “they were cleansed,” of the disease. Afterwards, all ten went their way, but one returned to say “thank you.” To him, the Lord said, “Your faith has made you whole.”
Now, I am not sure of the difference between “cleansed” and “whole,” but I have the feeling that “whole” is better. A simple “thank you” opened the way for greater blessing. Grateful people get favor—it follows the law of thanksgiving.
In addition, two good men, Paul and Silas, were imprisoned in a first century prison for sharing their good news. In a dark, damp, rat infested cellar, these “offenders” decided to sing praises to God. One Bible translation says they “gave thanks.” As they did, the law of thanksgiving was enacted and the prison doors forced open! Rather than run, Paul and Silas stayed put and shared their story with their jailers. Such is the spirit of grateful people.
What prison are you in today? Is it an emotional prison? A financial prison? Are you locked up with guilt, worry, discouragement or disappointment? Are you imprisoned with a habit you cannot break free from?
I know at least part of the remedy. Begin everyday giving thanks for the good things in your life. Forget about the bad stuff and concentrate on the blessings. Do as the song says, “Count your blessings.” Write them down if you have to. Over time, a force will be released through the gratitude you offer.
And in case you do not think you have anything to be grateful for, what about that breath you just took—the one you breathed as you read the last line? That deserves a “thank you,” don’t you think? Start with that and you are on your way.