Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Repeatedly, Scripture calls us to enter God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise Him for who He is and what He does. Yet, as we give thanks to God we mysteriously discover that it is we who are blessed. God does not need our thanks, but knows that we are enriched and strengthened as we give thanks to Him. So the Bible does command: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
It is meaningful that our word “thank” and our word “think” come from the same old root word. Methinks there is great wisdom here! Our forbearers knew that when we stop to “thank” God we are better able to “think”. And, when we stop to “think” we cannot help but “thank” God.
The apostle Paul saw the link between “thanking” and “thinking” when he wrote to the Romans: “For though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened” (Romans 1:21). In other words, when we don’t give thanks to God, our thinking about Him and all of life gets distorted. G. K. Chesterton shrewdly observed: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” (A Short History of England)
In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom writes about the power of giving thanks in all things. It happened to Corrie and her sister Betsie as they were in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Betsie had prayed that God would show them how to endure the torment of lice. Then excitedly Betsie told Corrie: “God has already shown us what to do about the lice! God gave us the answer in our Bible study this morning. It was there in First Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
So, in sheer faith Betsie and Corrie gave thanks for all their circumstances in the filthy Barracks 28: the foul air, the suffocating press of people, and yes, even the lice. It was only later they discovered the reason why camp guards left them undisturbed for their daily Bible study: the guards did not want to enter their barracks because of the lice.
Betsie was right. Give thanks to God in all circumstances. Enter His presence with thanks and praise!
- Take a few moments to thank God for specific blessings in your life. If you like, record these thank yous in your prayer journal.
- Now think of something for which you might find it difficult to thank God (like Betsie thanking God for the lice). Talk to God about this and your difficulty in thanking Him for it.
“Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, — a grateful heart…
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.”
George Herbert, Poem “Gratefulness”