Thanksgiving is one of our highest and holiest duties. There are more commands and calls in the Scriptures to praise than to prayer. Yet few duties are more frequently neglected than this. There are many people who are always coming to God with requests, but who do not come to Him with thanksgiving after their request have been granted. Ten lepers once cried to Jesus, as He was passing at a distance, beseeching Him for cleansing. He graciously heard them and granted their plea. When they had been healed, one of the ten returned to thank the Healer; but the other nine did not thank Him for the great favor they had received. This is often the case; many are blessed and helped, but only one here and there shows gratitude. Our Lord keenly felt the ingratitude of the lepers. “Where are the other nine?” was His painful question. God pours out His gifts and blessings every day upon His children; and whenever no voice of thanksgiving is heard in return, He misses it. If one bird in the forest is silent in the glad spring days, He misses its song. If one human heart fails to utter its praise amid life’s countless blessings, He is disappointed.
Some people seem to think that if they set apart certain definite days for praise, it is enough. For example, they will be grateful for a whole day once in the year – thinking that this is the way God wants them to show their gratitude. But the annual Thanksgiving Day is not intended to gather into itself the thanksgiving for a whole year; rather, it is intended to give the keynote for all the year’s life. Life’s true concert-pitch is praise. If we find that we are below the right pitch, we should take advantage of particular thanksgiving seasons to get keyed up. That is what people do with their pianos; they have them tuned now and then, when the strings get slack and the music begins to grow discordant. And it is quite as important to keep our life’s piano in tune as well!
The ideal life is one of joy. Discontentment and fretfulness are discord in the song. We have no right to live gloomily or sadly. Wherever we may go, we hear the music of joy, unless our ears have become tone-deaf. The world is full of beauty and full of music. Yet it is strange how many people seem to neither see the loveliness nor hear the music.
It would be well if many of us would train ourselves to see the glory and the goodness of God as revealed in nature. It will be sad to leave this world after staying in it for 70 or 80 years, without having seen any of the 10,000 beauties with which God has adorned it! “Consider the lilies,” said Jesus. Every sweet flower has a message of joy to the person who can read the writing. One who loves flowers and birds and trees and mountain and rivers and seas, and has learned to hear the voices everywhere which whisper their secrets to the one who understands – that person can never be lonely or sad.
We must have the beauty in our soul before we can see beauty anywhere else. Hence there are many who are truly blind to the loveliness which God has strewn everywhere, with a most lavish hand, in all His works. So we must have the music in our heart before we can hear the music which sings everywhere else for the Creator. If we have thanksgiving within us, we will have no trouble in finding gladness wherever we go. It is a sad and cheerless heart which makes the world dreary to certain people; if they would only let joy enter within them, a new world would be created for them!
If we allow our heart to nourish unlovingness, bitterness, and evil thoughts and feelings, we cannot hear the music of love which breathes everywhere – pouring out from the heart of God. But if we keep our hearts gentle, patient, lowly, and kind; then wherever we go, sweet strains of divine music will fall out of heaven and into our ears.
A great man used to say that the habit of cheerfulness was worth 10,000 pounds a year. This is not only true in a financial way; it is also true of one’s own enjoyment of life, and also of the worth of one’s life to others. A glad heart gets immeasurably more out of life than one which is gloomy. Every day brings its blessings! If it is raining, rain is a blessing. If trouble comes, God draws that person nearer to Himself than ever before; for “as your days, so shall your strength be.” Then, too, in the trouble, blessings are folded up. If there is sorrow, comfort is revealed in the sorrow, and a bright light in the cloud. If the day brings difficulties, hardships, heavy burdens, and sharp struggles – life’s best things come in just this kind of experience, and not in the easy ways. The thankful heart finds treasure and good everywhere.
A glad life makes a career of gladness wherever it goes. It leaves an unbroken lane of sunbeams behind it. Everyone is better, as well as happier, for meeting – even casually – one whose life is full of brightness and cheer.
We can do nothing better either for ourselves or for the world in which we live than to learn the lesson of praise and thanksgiving. We should begin at once to take singing lessons – learning to sing only joyous songs. Of course, there are troubles in every life; but there are also a thousand good things, even to one who is sad. Sometimes we have disappointments; but even these are really God’s appointments, as we shall find out someday. People will sometimes be unkind to us; but we should go on loving just as before, with our heart full of unconquerable kindness. No matter what comes, let us pray to the Lord for grace to sing and be thankful, and always keep sweet.
All for our King’s glory,
pumpkin image by Prixel Creative | Lightstock.com
This post was adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life.