Day 2

Why Do We Give Thanks?

from the Give Thanks reading plan


Psalm 136:1-26, Hebrews 12:28-29, Revelation 4:9-11, Revelation 11:16-17

For several years now, I have periodically struggled to sleep well. This has not always been the case. For years, it was my wife who had to fight for a good night’s sleep. If she woke up for any reason, that was it; worry and fear would overcome her, and she could not go back to sleep. I would listen and try to sympathize but, like I said, this was not my problem. I was sleeping well.

That is, until about four years ago. Stress from my job, worry about my children, and frustration over continued financial difficulties all conspired to have me join my wife in her sleep troubles.

The pattern of my insomnia took on a frustrating sameness. I wouldn’t sleep well one night, and so, the next I would be overly tired from not sleeping well the night before. I would take something to help me sleep. Then, for reasons unknown, I would wake up sometime between two and four in the morning, my mind racing through worrisome scenarios that would be of little concern were it between two and four in the afternoon. This happened night after night after night. Then, all of a sudden, the cycle would end, and I would sleep well every night for several months before the process would begin all over again.

If that sounds awful, it’s because it was awful. I’m not quite sure why I started having trouble sleeping. But, eventually, it occurred to me that instead of worrying and fearing everything under the sun, I should give thanks to God for everything under the sun. So that’s what I started to do; I started to give thanks whenever I could not go back to sleep.

My prayers didn’t work like a magical incantation, instantly securing the sleep I so desperately desired and needed. But why do we give thanks anyway? Is it simply because we like what God has given us? Or is there more to it than that?

When I gave thanks during those restless nights, I was reminded of something a lot more important than getting a good night’s sleep; I was reminded of God’s love for me. The things I thanked God for in the middle of the night deepened my experience of His love. I saw that insomnia is temporary, as are most circumstances in this life, but “His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). The more I gave thanks at 3 a.m., the more I was reminded of how much He loves me.

Two things happened as a result of this new practice. First, I began to thank God even for those “awful prayer times” because I knew they were doing something in me as a follower of Christ that could not be done in any other way. Second, and more importantly, I began to see Jesus as more desirable than even the sleep I knew I needed. The more I thanked God for how He has provided for me and my family, the more I found myself thanking Him for providing Jesus to save us. This was a new rest—a grateful resting in His enduring love.

Written by Matthew B. Redmond

Post Comments (3)

3 thoughts on "Why Do We Give Thanks?"

  1. Graham says:

    Grateful rest in His eternal mercy and love.

    Instead of dwelling in worry and fear, cast your anxiety on God with gratitude.

    Intentional gratitude depends your experience with God’s love and mercy.

    Psalm 136:1
    Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good
    And His mercy endures forever.

    Amen.

  2. Jacob Moon says:

    Giving thanks is something that should constantly be at the forefront of our mind. Simple things like making it to work on time or getting a good nights sleep are things we may take for granted but is signs of God working in the smallest ways. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to be “thankful in everything, in all circumstances”. I think thankfulness can come in forms we may not have wanted. Sometimes a promotion didn’t work out or a trip fell through and instead of focusing on the negative of an opportunity passing we thought we wanted, look at it at the perspective that there may be a bigger and better plan down the road and thank God for causing things to work out according to his plan and for saving the best for us and making things work out in the time he wants. So turning those negative experiences into moments of peace and thankfulness is just one way to explain why we should and do give thanks!

  3. Zachary says:

    I have recently in the last 6-8 months started having sleep troubles. Mostly associated with anxiety that I have about being alone. My wife left me 2 months after I was deployed to Afghanistan last year and I continually have issues and anxiety that I will always be alone. Even now when I am in a committed relationship with an amazing woman who I am so grateful I found, I still have fears of being alone. I fear that one day she will wake up and leave me just like what happened to me the first time. I know I can get to the point where I no longer fear being alone and I will be comfortable in my love for my current partner and most importantly God. I just have to trust that time will come.

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