29 June 2017

What does it mean to be truly thankful?

Thinking about gratitude and thankfulness and focusing on the positive aspects of life in order to increase our happiness has become common in recent years.

It is good for us to be thankful. But is that it? Is thankfulness just a habit that will make us happier? And does that really help us when life is tough?

On Wednesday evening, 150 women gathered in the hall to share delicious desserts and to hear from Danielle McGregor on the topic of ‘Lasting thankfulness from a deep place’.

There was much to be thankful for – good company, good food, pleasant surroundings. But as Danielle spoke, she challenged us to look beyond our surroundings in order to find lasting thankfulness. She spoke from Romans 8:31-32:

 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Danielle challenged us to expand our thankfulness in three ways.

  1. The first was to work out whom we are really thanking. Saying thank you assumes that there is a giver. And we must thank the one who has given us the gifts – it would be pointless, even hurtful, to thank a third party for a gift given by someone else. It is our powerful creator who has given us all things, and he is the one whom we must thank.
  2. Secondly, we were challenged to expand our thankfulness by widening our view of what we have been given. It is easy to thank God for good things. It is easy to thank him when bad things are avoided. But are we able to thank him even in the midst of hardship, because we know that he is for us and working for our good?
  3. Thirdly we were challenged to expand our thankfulness by grasping that the thing we can be most thankful for will never disappoint or be taken away. Pleasures will pass and the things of this life are temporary. Relationships bring us great joy but they also disappoint us. We have been reminded of this recently as we have looked at Ecclesiastes at the morning services – those things that we pursue in order to find meaning all prove meaningless. But God will not disappoint us. The passage in Romans goes on to say that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Knowing with certainty that we have eternity with God to look forward to should fill us with deep thankfulness and real hope.

This term we’ve been looking at the book of Job in our growth group. Job lost everything, but was able to say at the end ‘I know that you can do all things, no purpose of yours can be thwarted…My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes  have seen you.’

In our pleasure, do we thank God for his goodness? And in our pain, do we thank him for his goodness as we long for the time when all pain will end and we will spend eternity with him?

In Him,

Stacey Chapman 
Women’s Ministry Coordinator