Day 1

What Does It Mean to Give Thanks?

from the reading plan

1 Chronicles 16:4-36, Psalm 107:8, Psalm 118:21, Isaiah 38:17-19, Hebrews 13:15

Hopefully you’ve had the joy of receiving a heartfelt “thank you” from someone. Whether it was for something you gave or time spent with another, those simple words of sincere appreciation go a long way in bridging gaps in our relationships and lifting up our spirits. The best kind of thankfulness to receive is when we didn’t do anything to deserve it. When someone is thankful simply because of who we are, we may dodge or downplay the words, but they still leave lasting impressions. Gratitude not only helps us feel seen but reminds us of the value we bring to those around us.  

Yet even with these universal benefits, gratitude is the spiritual discipline that is often paired with “eventually.” It’s relegated to the back of our minds, something that we want to get to but rarely makes the top of the priority list. We can go long stretches without pausing to thank God, treating gratitude like a pile of thank-you notes we never get around to writing. 

Maybe for you, seasons of abundance make it easy for you to remember that every good gift comes from God while seasons of sorrow cause those words of thanksgiving to stick in your throat. Or perhaps the glimmer of good things outshines your need to remember their source while hard times remind you of your need for Him. In either experience, God’s Word to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 remains the same: it is His will for us in Christ Jesus to give thanks in everything. 

The Bible presents gratitude as more than a box to check. It is a posture of worship, an active response to our unchanging God. We cultivate thanksgiving in our lives when we take time to notice who God is, what He has done, and what He continues to do. We can give Him thanks in every season of life because His character is steadfast. 

Giving thanks isn’t complicated, but it isn’t easy either. It is a discipline—the habit of turning our hearts and minds to the past and present work of our good God. We hope this study of biblical gratitude will bring you peace and confidence in God’s care for you and point you toward Him in praise and thanksgiving. We have been given so much in Him.

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