The sun was just beginning to stream through our living room window as I opened my eyes. In the wee hours of the morning (shortly after our son joined us and had given me a few good smacks to the face as he adjusted his little body) I had moved from the bed to the couch, taking yet another round of ibuprofen to try to dull the pain in my mouth. I had recently had my wisdom teeth removed, and the recovery wasn’t going quite as planned. I was in excruciating pain from developing two dry sockets, and had to make several unexpected visits to the oral surgeon’s because they just wouldn’t heal.
As I laid there on the couch that morning, wanting so badly to get more rest and hearing three little people beginning to wake up and joyfully make their presence known, I could feel the discouragement coming in like a heavy cloud. “I’m a mommy with three little kids and a home to care for. I don’t have time for this.” Internally, I did the only thing I could think of to do in that moment; “Oh, Lord, I need your help. I know you’ve given me what I need to walk through this, but all I can sense right now is this despondence that wants to come in and take over. Help me, Lord Jesus.” Almost before I finished my plea, God so graciously answered.
So I began thanking Him. For my husband, who so graciously took days off of work to help me. For my sister, who was willing to stay with us for almost a week while I recovered. For my children, who brought so much joy through the recovery with their snuggles and tender little hearts. For my friends, who brought Frosties and meals and sent texts just to let me know they were praying for me. For the access to excellent medical care. For the flowers that graced our countertop from my dad (I can’t get enough of flowers)… And the list went on and on. Once I started, I could hardly stop. God had displayed His love for me in so very many ways, and when I simply chose to turn my eyes from focusing on the hard things to giving thanks to Him for His goodness, my entire perspective was altered.
Psalm 107:21-22 says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.”
This is just one of many passages that tells us to give thanks to the Lord. As fallen human beings, we have a natural propensity to turn inward and focus on the bad that is taking place in our lives. But God knows that keeping our eyes fixed upon Him in thanksgiving is what will be the very best thing for us in every way.
In our own strength, having a continual heart of thanksgiving is impossible. But by God’s enabling grace through His Spirit, we are able to offer praise in any circumstance! It’s not promised to be easy. In fact, in the verse above, it calls it a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” When we are in pain, in mourning, overcome with grief or depression or sadness, it may be the hardest thing we do. But that sacrifice of thanksgiving is what He uses as His channel of grace to draw us out of that state into one of joy and peace and hope.
And no matter what we are facing, there is always something to be thankful for. Even if every calamity known to man happened to us, if we were afflicted with the worst of diseases, and everything was stripped from us, we would still be able to say, with Job, “blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).” Why? Because we are deserving of death, and Jesus, by His love and mercy, died in our place to free us from the power of sin and death, and to give us the hope of being with Him for all of eternity. This in and of itself should cause us to leap with joy and continually pour forth praise from our lips.“[clickToTweet tweet=”To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything.” quote=”To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything.”]
As Thomas Merton put it, To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”
When we gaze at the vast and incredible kindness of our Heavenly Father rather than the trials we are facing, God is glorified, and we are blessed beyond measure. God never asks something of us that won’t be for our greatest good and for His glory. So we can trust that when we offer our sacrifices of thanksgiving, He will fill our hearts with hope and joy that is beyond what we can even comprehend.
In the words of A.W. Tozer, “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and not be poorer but richer for having made it.”
About the Author:
Heather Cofer is a wife and mother with a passion for encouraging others to love Jesus with all their hearts. This comes through writing, leading worship, and being actively involved in life-on-life discipleship alongside her husband, Judah, who is one of the pastors at their church. She is also a regular contributor for the ministry of Set Apart Girl, and is in the process of starting up her own blog in the near future (visit her landing page here)
Heather loves spending her days with their three young children, enjoying quality time with Judah, and having sweet conversations over cups coffee with friends.
Heather is a Colorado native, but spent most of her childhood in the country of Mongolia, which is where she and Judah met after his family also moved there several years later. After getting married in 2011, they moved to Windsor, Colorado, and have been there ever since.