Written by Evi Idoghor
Gratitude is one of those topics that few people pay attention to. It is all too easy to go through our days without finding anything to be thankful for. We live, breathe, and move as if it were our right to be here, ignoring the one who is responsible for our very existence.
Those who pray and ask God for something, receive it, say thank you, and go on with their lives. I'm reminded of the story of the ten lepers in the book of Luke, where they all wanted to be healed, approached Jesus, and as they were on their way after their encounter with Him, they noticed the difference in how they looked, and all but one continued on their journey. The one ran back to Christ and fell at His feet to express his gratitude - Jesus took note of those who did not return to express their gratitude for what He had done. Perhaps they felt they owed Him nothing more.
We, like the nine lepers, wake up each day, and instead of thanking God, we use the opportunity to complain about the things we don't have in our lives. We complain about what isn't going right in our families, communities, societies, and countries. The rising of the sun, in some ways, reminds us to be angry at our spouses and partners, for what they did or did not do the day before, or at the world. It's another day to continue in our sin or in our unbelief in God - we take for granted everything He has blessed us with.
I recall having a conversation with someone not long ago, and when I asked him about the things God had done in his life for which he was grateful, he replied, “nothing extraordinary has happened in my life.” “Nothing extraordinary?” I retorted, “Isn't it extraordinary that you wake up every day?” Then he made a gesture with his head and replied, “eh that one is normal,” in true Nigerian fashion. “You are healthy, fit, not lying in a hospital bed fighting for your life, isn't that something worth being thankful for?” I continued.
David in the Bible understood the subject of gratitude. He also understood human frailty, and God's omnipotence. It's not just about God saving you from an accident; if you drove or took public transportation and the car crashed and you escaped with minor or no injuries, then are plagued with an intense desire to testify of God's goodness. Yes, that is testimony enough - God spared your life. But do you know another instance where He spared your life? When you went to sleep at night and you opened your eyes in the morning. Psalm 3:5 says, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” (ESV). Another Psalm says, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
That is a testimony worth thanking God for every day, if not every moment. Each time I wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, I find myself saying, “God thank you. I thank you, especially because I awoke and the person sleeping next to me is still alive;” things like these are worth thanking God for all of the time.
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There are many people in the hospital, fighting for their lives, wishing and hoping that not knowing where their next meal will come from is their problem, but the reality is that they are terminally ill. And just because you are not in such a situation does not mean God loves you more than He does them. As such, we should be thankful for His mercies.
When I genuinely began to be thankful, I noticed a shift in my relationship with God. Regardless of how little I wanted to quantify what God did for me, I remained grateful to Him from the bottom of my heart - I don't take this life for granted because I know it's a privilege; it's a gift that I'm alive.
So, before you start doubting God's goodness and faithfulness, take a moment to look around you. The Bible says in Matthew 5:45, “…For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” God has not yet made a distinction between His children and those who do not want him as their Father.
Perhaps He is still demonstrating His goodness so that all may come to Him. There are unbelievers who have good health, who do not lack, who have rain fall on them and their crops still grow - unbelievers who have things going well for them, and it is not because of their lack of religion or their great work ethic that causes all things to work together for their good, it is God in His mercy, which is new every morning, who has chosen to extend that mercy and love to everyone.
““I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
– Romans 9:15-16
Consider this: when you render help to someone and they do not express gratitude, they continue as if it is the norm, perhaps thinking, why do I have to say thank you? The next time they come to you for assistance, there is a good chance you will refuse.
So, even when your parents do something nice for you, be thankful, just because they gave birth to you does not entitle you to anything. Gratitude only opens one's heart to receive more love, generosity, forgiveness, and grace from those giving the favor. How much more God, who is the righteous Father, who is good in every sense of the word, who is without sin and lacks selfish ambition? Wouldn't He open up His treasure chest in heaven and give you everything you need?
I am not saying this is a tip or a hack to get something from God, because He can’t be manipulated. Simply put, be genuinely thankful and grateful to Him, and you will enjoy the life He has given you. Also, as you express gratitude to God, you will notice that you will become grateful to others when they render help to you. A person who is not grateful to others is less likely to be grateful to God.
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