I recently made a major career shift from full-time teaching to full-time artist. I’ve spent years doing private commission and design work on the side, but it is really my first love and it is great to finally be doing it as my main gig. Of course, it also means that the paychecks don’t come in at a regular pace. There are seasons of plenty, but also seasons of leanness, and I can’t decide if it is easier to be thankful when things are plentiful or when things are lean. I find that in either case, I can quickly turn my focus inward and forget to acknowledge God.
One of the most repeated themes of Scripture is the need to give thanks. In times of plenty and in times of want, we are enjoined to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). Why? Because there is no God like God. I know this may seem simple and straightforward, but apart from His grace, our hearts are not naturally inclined to give thanks.
Solomon could have patted himself on the back for successfully building the temple. Ungratefulness is just that easy. Even Adam and Eve’s fall was an act of ungratefulness, despising the good that God had given and choosing instead what He had not given. In seasons of plenty, we can take for granted God’s provision. In seasons of want, we can grumble and worry like Israel in the wilderness, wondering if God is willing or even able to help us in our time of need.
The human heart has a real proclivity to be dissatisfied. We like to tell ourselves that if circumstances were different, or our children were more obedient, or our friends were more understanding, or our house was bigger, or our talents were better appreciated, then we’d be content. But contentment doesn’t begin with circumstances. It begins when we acknowledge that the Lord is God (Psalm 100:3)
When God calls His people to a posture of thanksgiving, He is calling us to the only possible posture of true worship. When we recognize that God is God, and that He is faithful and good, then we begin to comprehend the extent of His graciousness and love toward us. He made us. He shepherds us and calls us His own. He made Himself low, and bought us with His own precious blood. We are His, and “because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish” (Lamentations 3:22). Every day, every provision, every talent, every circumstance, is a gift of the never-ending mercy of God.
Because of His covenant faithfulness, we are called to neither boast nor worry, but simply to give thanks. The only proper response to God’s grace is gratefulness. Thanks be to God!
Written by Caleb Faires