By Emma Danzey, Crosswalk.com
As we prepare for another year of celebration with Thanksgiving, we are going to look at gratitude lived out in Scripture. God gave us His Word so that we could learn from it and be changed by it and the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Today, we are going to learn from grateful people in the Bible.
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Let us begin with the Creator of gratitude Himself. Jesus modeled perfect thankfulness during His lifetime on earth. There are four specific times when Jesus gave thanks:
In Rejection and Acceptance
He thanked God for hiding things from those who were prideful and revealing them to those like children (Luke 10:21). I love how we learn from Jesus that when the gospel is received poorly or well, we can have gratitude either way. So often we can place a lot of pressure that if someone turns down the hope of heaven, that we did not “do a good enough job sharing” or that we “made the relationship awkward.” However, Jesus is perfect and He Himself shared perfectly. However, He was rejected. Why would we believe that we would always be accepted in the message that we offer? We can even thank God that He is revealing Himself through us regardless of the responses we receive.
Thankful That God Hears Us
Jesus prayed thanking God in John 11:41-43 right before the miracle of Lazarus. He thanks the Lord for hearing Him. Jesus models to us the value in gratitude that God hears our prayers.
Before They Ate His Miracle Meal
Before the Last Supper
Before taking communion, Jesus thanked God in Matthew 26:26-27. This was right after He revealed Judas to be His betrayer. He knew the full meaning of the acts of the bread and the wine, and His response was gratitude. Wow. What a model to us to be grateful for His sacrifice, which gives us hope that even in the hardships of life, we can still find things to be thankful for each day.
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There is a famous worship song by Matt Redman called “Blessed be Your Name.” It comes directly from Job 1:20-21 which says, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’”
When Job was in the midst of turmoil and great loss, he chose to praise God who gives and takes away. Job’s attitude of thanksgiving even under the circumstances of such grief is a model to us as believers. He chose to allow his struggles to glorify the Lord.
After many years of infertility and sorrow, we read of Hannah praising the Lord at His provision of her son Samuel. Hannah made the brave decision to follow through with her promise and dedicate her son to the Lord’s service at the temple where Eli was priest. Her response after such a blessing, but such sacrifice, revealed a level of gratitude not many of us can personally comprehend.
“And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord’” (1 Samuel 1:26-28).
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David is known for his continual thankful heart in his many psalms. One stands out in particular, Psalm 100 which says in verses 4-5, “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.”
David used poetry and songwriting to praise God. He inspires us to be creative as well in how we say thank you to our Heavenly Father.
Many young teenage women would have been terrified or even angry to be told that they would be pregnant by the Holy Spirit before marriage. However, Mary’s response was gratitude. She knew the weight of the responsibility given to her and chose to reply with great joy that she would carry the Savior of the world.
“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).
Then she sings a song of praise in Luke 1:46-55.
6. The Samaritan Leper
On Jesus’ way to Jerusalem, he healed 10 men with leprosy. This terrible and disgusting disease did not phase Christ. He went and healed them. However, only one returned with gratitude.
Luke 17:15-19 says, “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”
These are just a few of the many people in Biblical history who were grateful. As we look at themes found within their lives, I cannot help but notice that they all include three things.
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1. Gratitude in the Midst of Suffering
Maybe you are entering this holiday season having gone through challenging trials. Perhaps you have been so worn down by loss, grief, or personal struggles. Maybe you are tired and just do not want to say thank you to God right now. Looking at these people in Scripture can help encourage a life of thankfulness regardless of the tough times and the circumstances going on around us. There is valuable blessing to a life lived in praise.
2. An Invitation to Praise God
These individuals were called into worship of a holy and marvelous Lord. We too are invited every day to praise Him. Luke 19:40 says, “He answered, ‘I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out.’” When we keep our gratitude silenced, nature itself will cry out. Why would we want to miss out on fulfilling our greatest calling of worshiping God. We were made for this and we are invited into it each day.
3. Answered Prayers
Whether the prayers were answered in the ways in which these people hoped, they were all speaking and voicing their hopes and desires to the Lord. Gratitude is something that absolutely can be shown, but it is often said. We can honor Christ with our words by praying to Him and thanking Him daily. We can celebrate that He hears us and He will respond, it may not always be how we would choose, but He does care for us.
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