What Does It Mean to Give Thanks?
Open Your Bible
1 Chronicles 16:4-36, Psalm 107:8, Psalm 118:21, Isaiah 38:17-19, Hebrews 13:15
BY Jessica Lamb
Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 16:4-36, Psalm 107:8, Psalm 118:21, Isaiah 38:17-19, Hebrews 13:15
One year ago, my husband woke up to the smell of smoke filling our home. The rest of the morning is a blur—calling 911, then standing barefoot on a neighbor’s front lawn while the fire department extinguished flames on the house we’d finished unpacking only the day before. We’d moved more than a thousand miles to this new place and knew only my coworkers and a neighbor or two through brief introductions.
People were quick to help. Near strangers offered us guest rooms and finished basements. A neighbor brought my daughter a stuffed animal to hold. My new coworkers showed up with lunch, and old friends sent gift cards. At one point, exhausted and spent, I found a laundry basket full of toiletries and groceries on the doorstep of our temporary residence.
The juxtaposition of kind acts against our difficult circumstances kept God, His goodness, and His constancy at the front of my mind. But now, in the safe routine of my daily life, I’m ashamed to say I go long stretches without pausing to thank God. I treat gratitude toward Him like a pile of thank-you notes I never get around to writing.
Maybe the opposite is true for you. Maybe in seasons of abundance, it is easy for you to remember that every good gift comes from God; however, in seasons of sorrow, words of thanksgiving stick in your throat. Still, God’s Word to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–17 remains the same: It is His will for us in Christ Jesus to give thanks in everything.
The Bible presents gratitude as more than a box to check or a note to send. In each of today’s readings, we see that a grateful heart isn’t a response to our circumstances or possessions. It is a posture of worship, an active response to our unchanging God and what He has already accomplished and continues to accomplish.
In 1 Chronicles 16, David decrees that the people of God give thanks to Him in proclaiming His deeds and sharing about His wondrous works. The psalmist points to God’s faithful love and act of salvation as reasons to thank Him. Isaiah tells us thanksgiving is a privilege reserved for the living. We’re shown in these words how we can cultivate thanksgiving in ourselves by taking time to notice who God is, what He has done, and what He continues to do.
Giving thanks isn’t complicated, but it isn’t easy either. It is a discipline—the habit of turning our hearts and minds to the past and present work of our good God. I pray this study of biblical gratitude will bring you peace and confidence in God’s care for you, and point you toward Him in praise and thanksgiving. We have been given so much in Him.