In 1914 Thomas Edison’s laboratory caught on fire. When he realized how big the blaze was, Edison sent word to his family and friends, “Get down here quick. You may never again see anything like this!”
Edison lost 2 million dollars in equipment and the record of a life’s work. Walking through the rubble with his son Charles, he said, “There’s a great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”
How many would be able to respond with gratitude after such loss? Giving thanks to God, Edison started anew. Many great inventions came after his laboratory burned.
How can we reap the benefits of a thankful heart all year long?
Planting Seeds of Gratitude
We each face a decision about what to plant in our heart. “We can decide to be grateful or to be bitter” (Henry Nouwen). The wise man chooses to plant seeds of gratitude: In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Being thankful is something all Christians are responsible to do.
We can’t command our feelings, but we can command our will. We can determine to say “thank You, Lord” even when we don’t feel like it. And, our emotions will follow our actions.
Cultivating a Thankful Heart
When you plant seeds of thanksgiving in your heart, the water of God’s Word will keep them alive. So, give thanks always for all things to God the Father (Ephesians 5:20) and enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). Whenever we come before God, we are always to come with a grateful heart.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Think about the things God has done for you. List the blessings of God in your life. Then, imagine if each thing were taken away from you. What would your life be like? Now mentally put each person and thing back on your list and be thankful.
No matter what our circumstance, we can find a reason to be thankful. You may find yourself in a terrible family or work situation. Give thanks in the midst of your problems.
Choose to be thankful wherever you are—even a lion’s den. Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:17). Pray and sing. Say thank you to God in prayer. Tell others of His goodness. Serve God with a cheerful heart and thankful attitude.
The Fruit of Thanksgiving
Show me a person who is thankful, and I’ll show you a person who can endure the most difficult situation in life and still find joy. Who is the greatest saint in the world? ... The one who is always thankful to God, who receives everything as an expression of God’s goodness, and has a heart ready to praise God for everything he gets. That is a saint (William Law).
Paul writes that we’re to speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…giving thanks always (Ephesians 5:19-20). A spirit of gratitude not only enhances our relationship with our heavenly Father, it improves the way we relate and talk to one another.
Someone asked a farmer famous for raising a superior strain of wheat why he let his competitors benefit from his research. “Aren’t you afraid their wheat will be as good as yours?” The farmer replied that when his neighbors grew proper grain and their grain pollinated his crops, he reaped the benefits. Thanksgiving works that way. When we give it freely to God or to others, we always have a residual benefit that comes back to us.
Sowing and Reaping
You reap what you sow the Bible says clearly. If you plant seeds of gratitude, you can expect an abundant harvest of God’s blessings. The opposite is also true. Ingratitude has no friends.
Don’t allow an ungrateful spirit to rob you of life’s richness. Thank God daily for who He is, and what He has done for you. Let this attitude of gratitude grow and become stronger through your praise and thanksgiving—and you will yield an abundant harvest of blessing.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.,
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