“In every thing give thanks . . .” (1 Thes. 5:18).
Really, Lord? Do you know what everything includes?
Political and societal unrest
In everything, Lord?
I read something curious in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah that reminded me of the high value God puts on the spiritual discipline of thanksgiving. Nehemiah 12:8, identifies six Levites who were given the task of leading “the thanksgiving.”
Later in the chapter, Nehemiah describes how he “appointed two large thanksgiving choirs” and instructed them to march and sing their way around the city.
Listen to what happened when they marched around the city thanking God: “God had made them rejoice with great joy,” so that “the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off” (v. 43).
This is the incredible power of thanksgiving.
Even if we don’t feel joyful when we begin giving thanks, before long, our spirits begin to lift. Listing the things for which we’re thankful reminds us how good God has been to us, even in the midst of dark days. Thanksgiving turns our eyes away from our circumstances and lifts them to God, whose love is far greater than our circumstances.
Then our spiritual act of worship through thanksgiving begins to reverberate. People around us notice our grateful attitudes. They marvel at our joy despite our trials. They scratch their heads and wonder how we can rejoice during suffering. They want to know more about the God who gives us this unexplainable joy. Before long, our joy is heard “afar off,” and our ability to witness for Christ is magnified.
Our family has been riding the roller coaster of unemployment and job hunting. The morning I read this passage in Nehemiah, we were particularly discouraged.
Our daily routine involves walking and praying around our neighborhood, but this morning we did something different. Instead of praying for our needs, we decided to join our voices in a “thanksgiving choir.” No requests, no intercession, just good old-fashioned thankfulness. Like a ping-pong match, we batted blessings back and forth.
“Thank you, Lord, for fresh starts and new mercies.”
“Thank you for family.”
“Thank you for a safe neighborhood to live in.”
“Thank you for meeting our needs according to your riches and glory.”
“Thank you for hope.”
And on and on it went. We walked for almost an hour and never ran out of blessings to be thankful for.
As a bonus, we met a new neighbor. Within a few moments, we had discovered a mutual faith and love for Jesus. As I told a friend later, “We had church right there in the middle of the street.”
Our discouraging day became a joyful day simply because we obeyed God’s command to give thanks in everything.
If you’re struggling with discouragement today, I’m saving you a seat next to me in the thanksgiving choir. You’ll be surprised by how verbalizing your thanks will lift your spirits and fill your heart with a hopeful joy that can’t help but splash over onto someone else.
If you’re already a thanksgiving choir member, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how gratitude has impacted your life. Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you’re reading by email, click here to visit Hungry for God online, scroll down to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment. I’d love to hear how God has used thanksgiving in your life.
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If you live within driving distance of Brookville, PA, I’d love for you to join me for A Wardrobe for All Seasons—Dressing for Spiritual Success, a one-day women’s conference on Saturday, September 17. I’ll share 3 workshop sessions: “Stepping Out, How Our Footwear Impacts Our Faith,” “Clean Out That Closet,” and “A Hat for All Seasons—Serving God In Every Stage of Life.”
Cost is $35, which includes lunch, a t-shirt, and a copy of my book, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. For more information and to register (discount registration deadline August 10), contact Kathy Shaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.