Why Giving Thanks to God is Necessary
Giving thanks to God for and in any situation opens the door for His Divine light to brighten the dark corner while strengthening us to bear and look forward to more of His grace.

Why Giving Thanks to God is Necessary

Giving thanks is like watering a seed planted in faith while enjoying what we have and persevering in expectation to reap great rewards in future. The Psalms encourage us to ‘enter His gates with thanksgiving’ for His love endures forever and also for the innumerable blessings we receive every day. King David, overwhelmed with God’s mercy cried out to God, ‘What is man that You care for him?’ But why thank a Father for taking care of His children?  Is thanking God a mandated necessity and not following this will lead us astray and away from Him?

      Why thank a loving and caring Father? – Giving thanks for receiving something is about the attitude of being grateful to the provider for something that I did nothing to deserve. Even a child receiving a gift from the parents cannot lay claim to it for being their progeny. I contributed nothing towards the environment to claim a right to breathe the air, use water and other resources and even if I do something to preserve it, I did not create all this. I pay nothing to use these and  the least I can do is to be grateful to the Creator who in His Divine mercy has provided and enabled me to use His resources.

    God’s command is ‘They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed, but each with his own gift, according to the blessing that the LORD your God has bestowed upon you’. In verse 10 the command from God is to ‘celebrate the Festival of Weeks to LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you’ (Deuteronomy 16:16-17).  The two verses highlight two important aspects – celebrate the yield of your crops and look toward the future blessings of Pentecost or the coming of the yield of the harvesting of the crop of His own Son that God had planted on the earth. The yield is the empowering Spirit of God which is poured out on us after the victorious rising and ascension of the Son of God into heaven. When such great blessings are received should we thank the Lord for the same or just grab it.  The second is about the gift itself, that is expected to be brought, firstly, it is a freewill offering and there is no compulsion and secondly that the size or quantum of the gift be according to what God has given us to harvest.

        A human being is a spirit with a soul living in a body but the body and this world is not our permanent abode. For a believer the gift of salvation through faith in God’s Son opens the way to our permanent eternal life in the presence of God. To prepare us for this life while living here God has given us His Spirit to empower, guide and lead us.  What gift can we give to God for such priceless gifts and that is why the command is to ‘love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’ (Luke 10:27). But then how do we love someone without being grateful to Him for what He has done in the past and to thank Him expectantly for what we ask from Him for the future.

       There are innumerable reasons to be thankful to God – Be thankful that the Messiah died for our sins and willfully suffered God’s wrath for our sins and became our only claim to heaven; ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever’ and He does not change for He is love (Psalm 106:1-2); give thanks for ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ and even the darkest sins are forgiven (Romans 8:1).  I must be thankful that God has reconciled us to Himself through His Son (Colossians 1:20-23); Be thankful for the Holy Bible for ‘you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23);  be thankful for the Body of Christ for with this we ‘help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6:2).

       Give thanks for the food and other facilities that He has given for He promises to provide for your needs and His promise ‘And my God will meet all your needs  according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19). He is my Shepherd and He cares for me. Be thankful for your true home for ‘what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ the things God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). Be thankful for He has already prepared a place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:1). Thank God for I do not have to work my way into heaven since all believers are ‘justified by faith in Christ’. Be thankful you are a new creation and God is working in your life ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6).   Eleven, be thankful that God woke me up this morning for ‘I lie down and sleep; I wake again for the LORD sustains me’ (Psalm 3:5). Thank Him for He answers our prayers for ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him’ (1 John 5:14-15). ‘I call out to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain’ (Psalm 3:4).

      I must be thankful for He is faithful, ‘God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1:9-10). Thank Him for He convicts us of sin. Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins before and during commission to stop and afterwards to seek forgiveness (John 16:8). Be thankful for God has called us to join His Divine family for ‘to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12).  I must also thank God for my earthly family who loves and supports me. Be thankful that God is in control for ‘many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand’ (Proverbs 19:21). Be thankful for His blessings for ‘whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father’ (James 1:17). ‘The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it’ (Proverbs 10:22). And finally, be thankful that we can come into God’s presence, ‘Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God and a great King over all gods’ (Psalm 95:2-3).

        Effects of thanking God for and in every situation – It is easy to thank God when everything is going as per our expected lines but when things go awry, during sickness, job loss Psalmist advises, ‘Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD for He is good! For His mercy endures forever!’  (Psalm 106:1). Praising God and thanking Him cannot be separated and feeling in the heart and then speaking through the mouth is good for our soul. Every good gift comes from God and like any good and wise father God desires that we learn to be grateful so that we do not start feeling that we have earned it on our own (James 1:17). Thanksgiving keeps our hearts in right relationship with Him and we remember how much we have rather than crying over how much others have.

        Thanksgiving changes our perspective about life for we then realize the effects of His hand on our lives. Apostle Paul advises us, ‘In everything give thanks; for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As per this even when we are in the midst of a crisis or in a blessed and happy state we are to give thanks to God. This keeps bitterness away and the trials also reflect His glory in our lives. Another command that the Apostle gives is about ‘singing and making melody in your heart, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. This is about thanking God for the trials that come our way though God does not bring trials in our lives but permits the same for various reasons. Job was tested for His faith and righteousness and Daniel and his three friends faced trials that God could reveal His glory to King Nebuchadnezzar and others.

       When we are facing temptations and trials, we are being prepared to receive the ‘crown of life’ (James 1:12) and God refines us by testing us ‘in the furnace of affliction’ (Isaiah 48:10). When we are in the midst of the fire of trials God’s hand is working in our lives to get us ready for revealing His glory to others. Apostle Paul faced his ‘thorn in the flesh’ while being comforted  by God, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). He could then boast of his infirmities that the Savior Lord’s power may rest upon him. We are assured by Apostle Paul through this promise of God that ‘all things work out for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28). If I love God and am chosen and called then He will not only strengthen me to meet all situations head on but also turn the same for my good.

       God allows trials in our lives to strengthen us to strengthen others. ‘Consider it pure joy, my friends, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ (James 1:2-4).Trials are temporary and for a little while and God is with us in it (1 Peter 1:6-7). Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego found Him in the fiery furnace that the fire couldn’t touch them and ‘even the smell of fire was not on them’ (Daniel 3:24-27). Giving thanks in trials is ‘God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ for all situations are under His control (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even Satan could not have touched Job without God’s permission (Job 1 & 2). Since it is God’s will I must obediently rejoice in all circumstances, for disobedience is sin and leads to ouster from His Divine presence.

       Lord Jesus prayed to God the Father, ‘The glory which You gave Me, I have given them’. He restored our lost glory of His image and likeness and blessed us with the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s glory to others through great miraculous deeds like Him. He taught us through personal example to obey God, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done’ (Luke 22:42).

      Being thankful prepares us for reach out to others without complaining. Lord Jesus fulfilled the prophesy for during all circumstances leading up to and on the cross ‘He opened not His mouth’ but sought forgiveness for His prosecutors (Isaiah 53:7). We have seen the love of God through His Son and in like manner we should also be prepared to die for others (1 John 3:16). How can a person without scars preach about the scars of the Savior Lord to those carrying multiple scars of sin?

        An attitude of gratitude leads to answered prayers for ‘tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope, now hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5).We are likely to get promotion and rewards like Job received double of everything that he had and Apostle Peter and other disciples received greater responsibilities and power. It brings additional blessings. Ten lepers cried out and were healed on their way to the priest but only one returned to give thanks. Lord Jesus blesses him, ‘your faith has made you whole’. Greek word sozo is used here, meaning ‘salvation, deliver out of danger and into safety into His provisions’. The Savior Lord’s blessing to the leper is also thought to have restored the lost body parts, finger ends etc that were damaged due to leprosy (Luke 17:11-19). This attitude helps in sharing, for nothing is mine and I use what I have for His kingdom and share with others.

    Thankfulness brings dependence. While taking Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice, Abraham called God Yehowah Yireh, that God will provide the sacrificial offering. But Yireh means ‘to see’ which for God would mean ‘to foresee or preview to provide’ (Genesis 22:14). An attitude of thankfulness reveals God’s character and our total dependence on Him. It brings miracles and reveals God’s glory. Lord Jesus thanked the Father for having heard Him and that ‘You always hear Me’ to then call out Lazarus to life after four days of death (John 11:41-44). It saves us from sin. Job’s wife could not bear his pain asking him to ‘curse God and die’ but Job replied, ‘shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips’ (Job 2:9-10). Thanking God while accepting trials also saves us from the sin of ungratefulness. We get unexpected rewards. Letters to the seven churches list great rewards to ‘those who overcome’ and even to sit with the Lord on His throne (Revelation 2 & 3). We cannot overcome adversity without an attitude of gratefulness for the past while expectantly looking into the future and thankfulness then leaves no place for regret.

           There are five crowns mentioned in Scripture; first, the everlasting Crown (1 Corinthians 9:25); second, the Crown for the one who wins souls (Philippians 4:1 & 1 Thessalonians 2:19); third, the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8); fourth, Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) and fifth the Crown of Life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10). All of these will be given for thankful perseverance in trials.

       Does gratitude have a dark side also? – Israelites while receiving Manna in the wilderness complained ‘but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing to look at accept this manna’ (Numbers 11:6). With thanks a hint of resentment also came in for desire can never be fully appeased and Manna, thus, represents dependence, no hoarding and endless yearning. Hebrew words ‘ein kol’ used here mean ‘there is nothing at all’ but also ‘there is not everything’. I must ever remain careful that my thanksgiving may not carry a tinge of resentment also. ‘God sees the heart’ and I must beware of not loving Him completely and that is the right meaning and purpose of giving thanks for it can swing both ways (1 Samuel 16:7).

       Giving thanks in and for everything, whether facing hardships or rejoicing in abundance teaches us that in faith our God will empower us to face one situation while helping us rejoice in the other. We know that God can and will turn everything for our good, honoring our love for Him and even if He does not we are assured of eternal life in His presence. Giving thanks on the one side is about recognizing His hand of blessing on us while looking unto Him for future blessings as well!

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