We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?
To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work.
When we receive forgiveness, our hearts are so filled with joy that we cannot help but love Him with a lavish love. We cannot help but give our lives to Him who gave His life for us and set us free from the prison of sin. We cannot stop thanking Him, and so we do everything possible to bring Him joy and to bestow our gifts upon Him, serving Him with all our talents and strength. And this is what heaven is all about: centering upon Jesus and loving Him above all else.
Intimate experimental acquaintance with Him will make us truly happy. Nothing else will. If we are not happy Christians (I speak deliberately, I speak advisedly) there is something wrong. If we did not close the past year in a happy frame of spirit, the fault is ours, and ours alone. In God our Father, and the blessed Jesus, our souls have a rich, divine, imperishable, eternal treasure. Let us enter into practical possession of these true riches; yea, let the remaining days of our earthly pilgrimage be spent in an ever-increasing, devoted, earnest consecration of our souls to God.
The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
Gratitude reinterprets the situations in our lives, beginning with the baseline acknowledgement that we don’t deserve any of what we’ve been given. It’s all a product of God’s grace. The eyesight that allowed you to read that last sentence, the mental abilities that allowed you to comprehend it, the manual dexterity that enabled me to type it—all are products of God’s grace. The breaths you took while reading the last paragraph—all of them were borrowed. When you start with this frame of reference, it’s hard to be discontent. But discontentment is empowered by a sense of entitlement. And there is an inverse relationship between gratitude and entitlement. When entitlement is high, gratitude is low. When gratitude is high, entitlement is low. Gratitude begins where our sense of entitlement ends.
Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.
There’s something like radar inside the human heart that senses the displeasure of others. Displeasure and ingratitude are like a repellant to human relationships. People think, “If I can’t measure up, if you can’t see anything good in me, I’ll go where people will accept me as I am.” Thanksgiving brings our loved ones closer to us rather than driving them away.
It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.