I’m glad we have a Thanksgiving Day in the United States for it reminds me of the thanks I should be offering every day. I’m persuaded that many of us take our blessings for granted. We have been the recipients of so many of them, for so long, that we have grown accustomed to them, and scarcely think of the source from which we have received them.
I can identify with Asaph in the Old Testament book of Psalms who confessed to God, “When my heart was embittered, and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant, I was like a beast before thee.” That’s strong language, isn’t it? But Asaph knew that he was like a beast, utterly irrational, behaving in a stupid, absurd manner. At least he was being honest and truthful with himself. He had failed to stop and think. He had refused to ponder and reason.
Asaph held some ideas about the godly and ungodly life that were quite false. At first glance it seemed that the ungodly prospered, and the godly suffered. Therefore, Asaph was given to complaining.
Perhaps if we are honest we will discover that we, too, have walked in Asaph’s shoes. We tend to take all the gifts and the pleasures and the happiness and the joy without saying much to God about it, but the moment anything goes wrong we begin to grumble and complain and say, “Why should God do this to me, why should this happen to me?”
We need to pause and reflect on the truthfulness of Solomon’s observation in Ecclesiastes 7:14: “In the day of prosperity be happy, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other…”
Inasmuch as every day has its good moments as well as its bad, it requires a grateful heart to be able to say, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24).
A little boy defined salt this way: “Salt is what always spoils the potatoes when it is left out.” Using the same negative approach we can say, “Gratitude is what always spoils life when it is left out.” A thankful spirit enables one to praise God even when circumstances are difficult.
Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, always began his prayers with an expression of gratitude. One cold, miserable day his people wondered what he would say. He prayed, “We thank Thee, O Lord, that it is not always like this.”
Depending upon one’s viewpoint there is something for which we can be grateful even in the worst of circumstances. We might be surprised at those things we experience in life that squelch the development of gratitude. A wealthy woman told her doctor she was frustrated by a restless desire for more and more things. He replied, “These are the usual symptoms of too much ease in the home and too little gratitude in the heart.”
The man was wise who prayed over a heavy Thanksgiving table: “God please grant us one more blessing…a thankful heart.” In our prosperous land we need to heed the words spoken to Israel when they were about to enter the land promised to them by God, “When thou…art full…beware that thou forget not the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:10-11).
Count your blessings
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you
What the Lord hath done.