God has a soft spot. It’s not a weakness—as if he’s less than divine at this point—but a quality in his Triune relations that allows us to connect with him in uniquely tender terms.
Here’s the secret. Say, “Thank you, Lord”—everywhere and all the time! Make it a steady part of your walk, your talk, your reflections, and your prayers. Do it with all the boldness of a child delighting in a Christmas gift.
We have some clues that tell us of the importance of thanksgiving to our bond with God.
First we see it in the way the Spirit often moved Bible writers to exclaim, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1). The Spirit stirs this sort of thankfulness in any heart he inhabits, and a survey of the psalms offers about fifty other calls for this sort of thanksgiving.
Jesus was also thankful to the Father. In his meals he began by giving thanks. This may be rote stuff for many of us—a small exercise before a meal—but for Jesus it was spoken to his Father whose plan on earth Jesus was fulfilling. A unique example of the weight this carried for Jesus came in the Lazarus episode, just after Lazarus shuffled out of the tomb alive: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42).
Jesus saw everything in light of his bond with the Father. He’s God’s Son; and any son who loves his father tightens the cords of the relationship by saying “thank you”—acknowledging the love in the father’s actions.
A couple of other reminders about thanking God come in Paul’s writings. One is a negative. In Romans chapter one Paul raised the problem of human sin. Listen to verse 21: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks….”
The absence of thanksgiving, in other words, reflects a disavowal of God. And by turning the point around it dawns on us that thanksgiving expresses devotion to who he is as God. It’s a pleasing faith that touches his heart as a Father who loves us.
A second reminder is offered by Paul in I Thessalonians 5:18—“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Notice that he doesn’t say “in every good circumstance”—as if we only thank God for his good gifts. Instead we do it in every moment—both good and bad—as an expression of our dependence on him and trust in him. He’s the God who loves us, even in a fallen world. Who works even our painful moments “for good.”
Here’s the real secret. Our thanksgiving doesn’t change the way God treats us. Instead it changes the way we see him. Whenever we say, from the heart, “Thank you, Jesus!” or “Thanks, Father!” we can be sure the Spirit is working in us to align our hearts with the way God lives and loves. And the more we do it, the more we have eyes to see God’s hand at work.
Try an experiment to catch the point. Go to a quiet place and start saying, “Thank you Lord!” for anything and everything that comes to mind. For home, family, friends, work, health, hurts, and hopes. Do it for at least twenty to thirty minutes. And then see if you don’t get a clearer vision of what it means to have God as God; and, with that, a sense of God’s pleasure.
Why is it a sure thing?
Because you’ve just done what you were made for and what the Spirit seeks to stir in all of us. You’ve touched God in a way that pleases him. He’s heard you and he loves you.
So, “Happy Thanksgiving!”