The headmaster of New College in Edinburgh, Scotland used to ask the blessing at the noon meal by praying, “O Thou who has endowed us with so many gifts, now grant to us just one more—a grateful heart.” If there is one universal human failure, it is our habit of assuming credit for things that can properly be ascribed only to the great goodness of God.
The sin of ingratitude is a virus of the old nature that seems never to be quite eradicated. How about it? Do you take the blessings of God quite for granted? Do you ever fill your lungs with clean, fresh air and thank God that you are alive? Do you ever watch the sun paint the horizon with shades of orange, yellow, and gold, and thank Him for your sight? Do you ever polish your glasses, as I often do, and say, “Lord, thank You even for my bifocals—I would surely be in a mess without them.”
Do you ever turn the shower on, and as the hot water beats a staccato on your back, say, “Lord, thank You for hot water and fresh towels”? Do you tuck your children in at night, and as you kneel by the side of their beds and tousle their hair, say, “Lord, thank You for my children even when they put Crayola on the wallpaper and break my best dishes”?
Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:22, 26
Gratitude is a memory of the heart; it is the recognition of all that God has done for us. I received a letter from a listener, who had been praying specifically for a rather large amount of money, and the individual who wrote was quite put out with God because the money had not been received; it started me thinking about God and His goodness to us as His children. The individual who wrote seemed to feel that God had an obligation to perform, that He owed him a personal debt, and by not allowing the money to come in had failed him.
Did God let him down? Perhaps it would be better to ask, “What right does anyone have to order God to do something?” In reality, God owes us nothing; it is totally of His grace and mercy that He has blessed us. As James said, “We ask wrongly that we may consume our requests on our own selfish interests.”
Long ago Jeremiah wrote, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” But Jeremiah did not stop there. He continued, “I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:22-26). Take inventory of God’s blessings, and as you do, be sure to thank Him for what He has withheld as well as for what He has given. Do you ever thank Him for what could have happened but did not? For what He wisely saw fit to withhold from you though you asked Him for it so diligently, fully thinking that was what you needed? Pressed by the needs of life and living, we only see the next deadline, the burden of tomorrow’s load, instead of the blessing of God today. Surely, the Psalmist had the heartbeat of God Himself when he wrote, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men” (Psalm 107:8).
Wherever you are, and no matter what you are doing, take inventory of God’s goodness and lift your voice in thanksgiving.
Resource reading: Psalm 100:1-5