The Essential root of thankfulness

Who doesn’t like the 23rd Psalm and the idyllic pastoral scene that passes through the mind as you hear the words? I think David might object to his psalm being a mainstay in funerals, but I know he would cheer that we find comfort and rest in our Lord through his words.

Think about the first line, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Read it again slowly, with emphasis on the second sentence. If you are like me, you may have felt a twitch in your inner being with it. Something within that calls out “Liar.” I lie because instead of thankfulness, I want—a lot.
I want the upheaval in our lives right now to end. I want God to heal me from the physical ailments I’m facing. My wants can be altruistic or totally selfish, from strife ceasing in our country to a weekend getaway with my wife. Each day, I could come up with an entirely new list. I want, I want, I want.

When I get out of balance but still open up for God’s nudges, He will often bring up reminders—some still awe me. Consider the prophet Daniel. Taken from his homeland, made a eunuch, told that anyone who prayed to any god other than the king would be cast into the lions’ den, Daniel boldly and openly prayed to and praised God.

Then, we read how Paul and Silas had their skin and muscles shredded before being shackled and locked in a filthy dungeon. They had one response: praise and prayer. Oh, how petty and pitiful I seem in my eyes when my focus is on me and my wants instead of Jesus’.

In my better times, I know the secret these men and multitudes of others held. Thankfulness—in the great times and in the worst—is the highest portion of worship. Being thankful starts with trust. If we are talking about a gift from a friend, we trust they gave it with a pure, generous heart. In life, we remember the words of Solomon, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5a NKJV).

Paul encouraged the persecuted believers in Thessalonica to be thankful in everything. I think that verse gave rise to a bumper sticker in the 1970s or 80s, “Let go and let God.” Both quotes serve as a reminder that any experience still has room for honoring Jesus for who He is and what He’s done—always.

Exercising and developing a heart that naturally turns to Jesus in all seasons of our lives nurtures a consistency in our character. If we normally react with an outburst, having in its place an unshakeable trust opens the hearts of others around to be more at ease with you and the situation. New opportunities to share your life-giving story will present themselves.

While Paul didn’t have the advantage of walking with Jesus during his ministry, he nevertheless experienced a unity in the Spirit that few could rival. Even so, he expressed such longing to know Jesus more and encouraged all to follow the same pursuit.

More than having a deep relationship, Paul prayed that all “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NKJV).

A fancy greeting card doesn’t come close to expressing true thankfulness. It’s infinitely more than saying thank you, even if you add Lord Jesus after it. Sincere gratitude erupts from the heart and explodes with worship that shouts “I trust you, Lord, with everything about my life.” Perhaps, this acronym will help you reach deeper and higher and wider and longer as you seek a quiet spot in the turmoil.

T – Trust
H – Him
A – always,
N – nurturing and
K – knowing
F – fully His
U – unfailing
L – love.

Charles Huff

Charles Huff is a Bible teacher, minister, speaker, husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife have held pastors seminars and taught in various churches, including remote mountain churches in the Philippines. His writing has appeared in, The Upper Room; articles in three anthologies: Gifts from Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer compiled by James Stuart Bell; Short and Sweet Too and Short and Sweet Takes a Fifth, both compiled by Susan Cheeves King.

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