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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Byers

Giving Thanks Always

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Recently I was thinking of a beautiful song from the late 70’s that begins: “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because he's given Jesus Christ his Son.” We give thanks because of his indescribable gift, his presence always with us. In the same time period of this song the Lord began to highlight 1 Thess. 5:18 to me: “…In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

As a young Christian, I began to try and incorporate that into my life and learned very quickly that thanksgiving is often a choice in the midst of something difficult, something calling me into complaint. But it’s a choice empowered by his Spirit of grace. Eph. 5:18; 20 says, “Be filled with the Spirit…Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are giving thanks in the context of being filled with the Spirit who gives us the fruit of joy as we yield to him. And what begins as a spiritual discipline, a choice, can become our delight. Sometimes we must offer thanksgiving as a sacrifice of praise. King David wrote Ps. 34 at a time when he feared for his life as he was held by the Philistines. He feigned madness, drooling on his beard so that the Philistines would release him. David’s comment? “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (v. 1) As David pushed back against fear, despair, self-pity and the downward pull of introspection, thanksgiving opened a new door for the Lord to come in and “save him out of all his troubles” (v. 6).

Dutch sisters Corrie and Betsy ten Boom were sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp during WWII for hiding Jews. This filthy, crowded, rancid place was filled with fleas. Betsy asked the Lord to show them how to live in such horror and Corrie and Betsy thanked the Lord for the place, and in particular the fleas. They soon realized that they had been given the gift of freedom to pray and have Bible studies with the other women. Soldiers would not come near because of the fleas. His light shone gloriously in that darkness as they chose thanksgiving. (See Tramp for the Lord.) Thanksgiving closes a door the enemy wants to open. When we refuse to allow negative influences to convince us, when we refuse to entertain complaint and instead offer praise, we are inoculated in that moment against the poison of bitterness and the drift of depression, anxiety and hopelessness. The two can’t occupy the same place. In fact, thanksgiving protects and promotes our emotional and spiritual well-being as we set our affections on the Lord. And we can thank him that he’s at work no matter what we are experiencing in that moment. We can always celebrate his goodness as thanksgiving moves us into praise.

I had an experience of deep pain a few years back and the Lord clearly instructed me to look back into my memories and begin to thank him. It helped me to push back against the overwhelming negative and see God’s goodness again. As I made a choice to turn in his direction with gratefulness, clarity, a fresh perspective and hope began to come again. Thanksgiving closed one door and opened another. We can almost miss the simplicity of Pr. 17:22: “A joyful heart is good medicine!”

Perhaps today you could make a small step and pray this: Lord, you tell me to thank you no matter what happens, to give you thanks in everything because that is your will. So, right now, I am choosing to thank you in --------. I don’t know how you are going to work things out, but I want to say thank you that you are good and faithful. I can trust you to bring things right because you and I love one another. Grace my heart to thank you in everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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