…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV).
Thankfulness is created by what you focus on. Thankful people have chosen to focus on the blessings instead of what they don’t have.
God is not the Destroyer nor the instigator of the evil and adversity we are witnessing throughout the world. We know from the Word of God that God has no dealings with evil and He does not use evil to test anyone (James 1:13).
Even though He has not initiated this dangerous and unpredictable environment throughout the world, perhaps it is an opportunity for Him to take a survey of the Body of Christ in the area of being thankful in all things.
Are we a thankful people in a time of international crisis? Are we focused on the blessings we have or on the things we do not have? Do we acknowledge God as the source of all goodness in our life? Are we thankful IN all things, in the good times, in the tough times? Do we regularly express our thankfulness to God?
It is remarkable that one of the most privileged people in the world is a member of the British royal family who is so self-absorbed that he is blind to the benefits he has not earned and is incapable of acknowledging anything in life to be thankful for. He has invested much time and energy to make public his feelings of bitterness and resentment toward the very institution that has given him such wealth and privilege. By utilizing the benefit of privilege others do not have, he pursues a greater celebrity status and ever-increasing financial gain he feels entitled to. While forgetting the good life he already benefits from, he whines and complains that he has been mistreated and deserves better. This is indeed a high-profile example that takes unthankfulness, love of money and love of self to a new level.
Like the brother of the prodigal son, who forgot the benefits that already belonged to him, the devil was able to convince him that he was a victim who had been overlooked and he deserved to be celebrated. The result of not being thankful for what he already had, produced anger and bitterness toward his father, (Luke 15).
Millions of people including many Christians are being sucked into the victim and entitlement mentality that has reached epidemic levels in our culture. The government owes them something, God owes them something, their boss owes them something….. The truth is nobody owes us anything. We owe God everything. The apostle Paul prophesied about this last-days generation where times would be dangerous and unpredictable, abounding with vices—a self-centered generation where unthankfulness and entitlement would feature among the societal ills (II Timothy 3:2).
In Numbers 16 when the people complained against Moses and Aaron, a plague broke out in the community. In Numbers 21 when the people complained against God and Moses about their difficult circumstances they were bitten by serpents.
A legitimate question for ancient Israel and for us today is this: how many people had to suffer and die before the people got the message? 50…100…1000…before they acknowledged that they had sinned against God by failing to be thankful for what He had already done for them?
The truth is most of Israel’s problems were self-inflicted. They forgot all His benefits. They forgot how God brought them through the Red Sea…provided for them in the wilderness…the manna…the water out of a rock…They did not replay the right memories. They became critical, cynical, and fault-finding. They became unthankful.
In Deuteronomy 28, God gave Israel a list of conditional blessings they would receive if they kept His Word first place. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated…The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand….The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself…The Lord will open to you His good treasure…the Lord will make you the head and not the tail…
God also revealed the consequences of not remaining obedient and thankful — And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron,(Deuteronomy 28:23). This is the King James Version of living in a devastated economy.
Deuteronomy 28:47NIV— Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity….
As most of Israel’s problems were self-inflicted, so are ours. These conditional blessings still apply to us today as the people of God.
In ICorinthians 10, Paul writes that the history of Israel and their mistakes were recorded as an example for us as New Testament believers that we should not repeat them.
Have you ever helped someone out of a desperate situation and they failed to demonstrate appropriate thankfulness? Did you even receive an email in your Inbox? If the same people needed rescuing again, would you be eager to help them? If you did, it would be an act of mercy. You can begin to see the bigger picture from God’s perspective.
Thankfulness is a choice. Unthankfulness and a lack of appreciation for what God has already done is one of the reasons why people don’t experience God’s best. It may be a fact that things in your life could be better than they are right now. We are not ignoring these things but you will probably admit that things are not as bad as they could be. We can be thankful to God for all of the terrible things that could have come about in our lives but didn’t. God has spared us from so much and it pleases God when we maintain a consistent, thankful attitude for the goodness He has shown us.
Since we have a Kingdom nothing can destroy, let us please God by serving him with thankful hearts and with holy fear and awe (Hebrews 12:28 TLB).
If you are having difficulty thinking of anything you have to be thankful for, here are a few suggestions to help jog your memory.
Rom.5—We have peace with God.
Eph.1:7, Col. 1:14 We have redemption through His blood.
We have obtained an inheritance.– Eph. 1:11.
We have boldness and access by faith. Eph. 3:12
We have a great High Priest that has passed into the heavens—Jesus the Son of God. Heb. 4:14
We have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous. I John 2:1
He ever lives to make intercession for us. Heb. 7:25
We have been made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in life. Col. 1:12
We have been delivered from the power of darkness. Col. 1:13
We have been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Col. 1:13
We have passed from death to life. I John 3:14
We have the mind of Christ. I Cor. 2:16
We have the power to get wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18
He gives us richly all things to enjoy. I Timothy 6:17
Let’s come into agreement and decree this together——
“Father—I have a lot to be thankful for. My feeling –sorry- for- myself- days are over with. My complaining about what I don’t have is over. Compared to where I used to be, I am living in the land of abundance. I purpose to remember your goodness, your grace and your miracles. Those who come near me—will hear about your greatness and your goodness. As I cultivate and maintain a lifestyle of thanksgiving—I will move into a new level of prosperity and experience your best.”