Tears flowed as my heart pounded. Barely able to get the words out, I managed a whisper, “Thank you, Jesus.” With worship music blaring in hopes of drowning out my hurting heart, the Lord drew me closer to Him and I realized the magnitude of gratitude in times of devastation. At that very moment, complete with heartache and tears, I was given a most precious gift: an opportunity to praise, thank and express my love to God solely for who He is. And so I worshiped.
Worshiping through the Pain
I didn’t worship because my prayer was answered. It wasn’t. I didn’t thank Him because I felt grateful. I didn’t. I didn’t express love to Him because things were going well. They weren’t.
But as I worshiped, everything shifted. My focus was no longer on my pain but on His worth.
My heart experienced what my head knew years prior: This is true worship. This is everyday gratitude. It has nothing to do with me or what I’m experiencing but everything to do with Him, who He is and what He’s done for me. This was a formative moment. I would never be the same.
The gift of gratitude, the unique opportunity we’re given in times of trials and disappointments, is a gift to both our hearts and God’s.
The Gift of Gratitude to God
The heart of a good parent is to have a relationship with their child that extends beyond transactional give-take interactions. Parents long for a connection that is based on more than what they can simply give or offer.
How much more does the heart of our perfect Heavenly Father long for true communion with His children? Without even being aware of it, our worship and gratitude can be reduced to thanking Him more for His blessings and less for Himself.
In times of trouble, we can often find ourselves offering a purer form of worship and be reminded that regardless of what we’re experiencing, He is good and always worthy of our praise. What a gift this is to His heart! What an opportunity to bless Him, for Him!
“Praise the Lord…praise his unequaled greatness!” (Psalm 150:1a, 2b NLT)
A Gift to Ourselves
Gratitude is an attitude adjustment, isn’t it? The moment we express thanks for one thing or to one person, grumbling begins to diminish. Gratitude shifts our perspective from what we don’t have to what we do have. Spiritually speaking, thanking God for who He is and His work upon the Cross will always remind us of His worth and goodness as it puts our problems in their proper place. This doesn’t mean our pain will disappear or our heart-wound will automatically heal, but it does mean we are positioning ourselves in the best possible place for healing to begin. Peace and praise go hand in hand.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)
A Gift to Put into Practice at All Times
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1 NLT)
Psalm 136 instructs that praise and gratitude is fitting at all times and for all things. This Psalm, sometimes called the Great Hallel (or Great Psalm of Praise) instructs God’s people to “give thanks to the Lord” 12 times in its 26 verses (in the New Living Translation).
Throughout this psalm, the call to give thanks is solely based on the never-ending, faithful love of God. Sprinkled throughout this Psalm is a portrayal of ways God has proved Himself faithful time and again. What is striking about this psalm, however, is the recounting of even the hard times, trials and difficulties, such as His children’s suffering in Egypt and hard battles in the Promised Land as well as celebratory times of victory and displays of His personal care.
Through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the psalmist’s words continue to instruct us, God’s children, today. Whatever we are going through, however we may feel, two things are always true: He is good and His love endures. Let us give thanks for who He is. This is the gift of gratitude.