Thankfulness is itself a blessing from God, something we can use to come close to Him.
It’s a tool, a helpful strategy, a key to a door that you walk through. It’s like a ladder, or a staircase that you can climb.
When I’m feeling discouraged and having a hard time connecting with God, I’ve found that it really helps to thank Him in prayer. Each time I thank Him for something, it’s like I’m taking a step up. Getting started can be a challenge: “Thank you for…my family (even though we are not getting along right now)…and for my um…fleece jacket…and…um…”
The steps seem narrow and steep down at the bottom. Life is hard, relationships are challenging, world news is not encouraging. The day to day can be either monotonous or exhausting, or both.
Still, if I persist in my prayer of thanks, after a while it gets easier. The steps grow broader, my footing more firm:
“Thank you for my home, Lord, this shelter from the cold. I pray for people struggling to afford heat in their homes, and for people who don’t have a home. Help them Lord.”
“Thank you for the Church, Lord, for keeping me in your Word and for your Sacraments. Thank you for the fellowship, the guidance, the support.”
“Thank you for helping me through my struggle last week. I knew that I could count on You for comfort and strength. Thank you for delivering me from that, for hearing my prayer. I know that you always hear my prayers, Lord.”
Ascending with each thank you, I begin to find myself in that higher place with that wider, brighter view. You know which one I’m talking about. Up there we see clearly, once again, how our compassionate God has called us to thankfulness, how He Himself draws us up those “steps” and enables us to climb them by the power of His Spirit.
Psalm 105 tells us to “Give thanks to the Lord…” (vs. 1) and to “Remember the wonders he has done…” (vs. 5). What grabs me here is the “Remember”. The note in my Bible says that this kind of remembering motivates us to worship God, focuses us in worship, and helps us to trust in Him as we remember how He has remembered.
Being thankful ultimately is remembering how God has remembered us! Remembering how He has loved us and cared for us. Remembering how He has been faithful in His promises to us. Remembering how He sent His only Son to save us.