Psalm 100:4-5 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”
In our series of Psalm 24’s characteristics of those who will ascend into the hill of the Lord, it is important to consider the words of Psalm 100 as well. Psalm 24 declares that those who ascend must have clean hands, pure hearts, no idolatry, and no deceit. But Psalm 100 adds that a necessary component of entering the presence of God is having a heart of thanksgiving and praise. On this Thanksgiving Day, let’s remember the power that thanksgiving brings!
The Bible places an extraordinary emphasis on giving thanks (see Ps. 26:7; 95:2; Matt. 26:27; Phil. 4:6; and 2 Cor. 9:15, to name a few examples). The Scriptures are riddled with passages that talk about the importance of giving thanks and how doing so is directly related to one’s prayer life. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ephesians 5:18b-20 adds, “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the previous two verses, I emphasized the words everything and always. Why would God tell us to be thankful in all things at all times? My conclusion is that He was not just telling us to do it because it’s the right thing to do, but because there’s some benefit that comes from giving thanks.
I have found that giving thanks is directly related to one’s prayer life and one’s worship of God. The other day, I was beginning my prayer time with God, but I was so overwhelmed with the busyness of life, the long list of things to do, and the challenges that were placed before me. I felt like I was constantly fighting just to keep my head above water. When I’m in that position, it is hard to give thanks for anything. But somehow, in the midst of the chaos, I believe I heard in my spirit that I needed to spend my prayer time by giving thanks.
So, I began to thank God for everything and anything that I could think of to be thankful for. Do you know what happened? My head was lifted above the waters, and I began to see my circumstances and the circumstances around me from God’s perspective, rather than my own! By giving thanks, I was able to get out of the muck and the mire and to see things from a new point of view. You see, what happens when we give thanks to God is that we magnify His greatness and diminish our problems. Doing so drives worry and fear out of our lives and replaces those troublesome thoughts with the peace of God. When I stop to thank God for His blessings in my life, I cannot be stressed any longer! I just can’t stay stressed!
Thus, I believe God tells us to give thanks in everything and at all times because (1) doing so glorifies Him and humbles us, and (2) doing so lifts the burden off our shoulders and replaces it with His peace. I challenge you: The next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take just five minutes to stop, be still, and thank God for everything you can think of. I guarantee that your attitude will be changed for the rest of the day.
Don’t save your thanks for Thanksgiving; Give thanks in everything and at all times!