Attitude of Gratitude

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Evaluate your heart. Ask yourself, "Does complaining and ingratitude mark my life? Or does thanksgiving permeate it?"

Most of the books I've read on prayer don't include a section on thanksgiving. It seems that the hardest arithmetic for us is counting our blessings. It's the natural tendency of mankind to count the days that are overcast rather than the days of sunshine, and it's rare that the nightly news covers some great humanitarian outreach that happened.

But in Psalm 103, David realized the need to be thankful. It is supposed that David wrote this psalm during one of the darkest times of his life, but instead of bemoaning his circumstances, he stopped and talked to himself as if to say, "Hey, wake up in there. Let's count the Lord's benefits and return thanks because of it."

Look at verse 1: "Bless the LORD, O my soul." Bless can be defined as thanking and adoring God because of His goodness. In the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, we find that thanksgiving and gratitude are important for God's people. We're not to just rush into God's presence and say, "I've got a need; take care of it." Psalm 100:4 says we're to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Thanksgiving should mark the lifestyle and attitude of a Christian. Paul wrote, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17).

The next thing to notice in Psalm 103 is the recollection of God's benefits: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (v. 2). It's good to make inventory of God's blessings. Let's follow David's list: first of all, God "forgives all your iniquities" (v. 3, see also vv. 10-12). When was the last time you said, "God, thank You that You died on the cross for me"? A man once said, "Jesus Christ has forgiven all my sins, and He's never going to hear the end of it."

Next on the list: God "heals all your diseases" (v. 3). Many commentators believe this is a reference to spiritual healing; we know the soul can have ailments: discouragement, depression, doubt, fear, and anxiety. The Lord can heal all of those things. He also "redeems your life from destruction" (v. 4), or from going to waste. How many times has God saved your hide? Can you look back and thank the Lord for it?

He also "crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (v. 4). Even when we goof up, God doesn't forsake us; He's tender and so merciful. Even if things are going rough, bless the Lord; you're still alive, aren't you? He's still on the throne, isn't He? The appropriate response to Him is an attitude of gratitude.

When a person thanks God, it indicates that they believe God is good, that the will of their Father is perfect and that He knows best. Thanksgiving is based on the belief that God is painting the picture of my life and it's going to turn out okay. Even though right now the picture looks a little fuzzy and we might say, "What a mess," the artist knows the finished product. And when I thank the Lord in the midst of the mess, it indicates that I believe He's going to make things out for my good and His glory (see Romans 8:28).

A consistent outpouring of thanksgiving is like an evergreen tree. Evergreens don't lose their leaves, do they? They're green in the summer, and they're green in the winter; if there's snow or if it's 105 degrees, they're green. A Christian can live like an evergreen: in the heat of problems, in the cold situations of departure, death, or disease, still shining for the Lord. Evaluate your heart, and ask yourself, "Does complaining and ingratitude mark my life? Or does thanksgiving permeate it?"

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