Thankfulness is a virtue that transforms our lives and helps us walk in all the fullness that God has intended for us. It’s a very effective way to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). There’s power in being thankful because it helps us to see and walk in the light instead of darkness, for we are always either traveling on a trajectory toward light, or toward darkness.
Light and darkness are metaphorical terms in the biblical application. I will explain that briefly here in order to provide context for what I want to say about thankfulness.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5*)
Notice darkness is personified here. The darkness did not comprehend the light. Other translations say that it could not overcome or diminish the light. Both are true.
The Light, biblically speaking, is true reality as it actually is (we can only live according to our current perception of reality). It’s what exists in the Trinitarian life of God. It’s perceiving and living in the world the way Jesus saw and lived in the world. The more you receive this light, the more the truth about God, about you, about others, about the world around you, is unveiled to you.
Understand that there’s no brokenness, sadness, death, sickness, hatred, fear, envy, conflict, or illusions in this light…only wholeness (Shalom), pure joy, and delight. It’s full of love and peace. To the degree we receive this light is the degree that we’re made free (John 8:32).
The Darkness, on the other hand, is a construct that’s alienated from the light of God. It’s a force that resists the light and tries to blind humankind from receiving it. It’s both psychological and demonic (2 Cor.4:4).
As Dr. C. Baxter Kruger has said, “The darkness is the delusion that keeps you from being able to see that this is the core of the universe [John 1:1-5]—this Father-Son relationship—and our inclusion in it.” [c.f. Eph.2:6; Col.3:3; Phil.3:20]
I will talk more about light and darkness next time.
Here’s a deep truth. Whatever you MAGNIFY get BIGGER. I say that tongue and cheek, but it is true. Whatever you put your focus on is what will dominate your thoughts, your perspective, which will affect the direction your life will take. If we focus on what God is doing, the light in our lives grows brighter. Conversely, if we focus on what God isn’t doing, we risk growing in darkness.
This leads us to thankfulness. What happens when we’re thankful? Our heart becomes open to the truth of God’s goodness. In fact, thankfulness is the gateway to God’s realm.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5*)
Being thankful in every situation keeps our heart tender and open before the Lord, enabling us to see the path before us more clearly. It helps to unveil the true reality (light) that God is absolutely good, at all times, regardless of circumstances. This helps us to be transformed from living weak, circumstantially-driven lives to living according to the power of His life, which always includes fullness of joy! (For more explanation on this, see my post: “Why we should always be thankful.”)
Conversely, not being thankful leads to weak and darkened thinking:
21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom.1:21 *)
This is why it’s critically important that we “guard our heart” because our outlook on things, and the course of our life, will be greatly determined by the condition of our heart (see Prov.4:23).
Over the years, I’ve seen too many once-fully devoted believers fall away because they didn’t manage their heart well. They were dis-appointed from God’s intended life of fruitfulness and purpose (see John 15:16). They allowed circumstances or distractions to blind them from the light so they could no longer see the path in front of them. Their faith suffered shipwreck (1 Tim.1:18-19).
Back to my main point: one way to make sure we stay on this trajectory toward greater unveiling and truth is to cultivate a lifestyle of thankfulness.
We, in the U.S., celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this week, but regardless of where you live, you can take this opportunity to be thankful. And It really doesn’t matter what you believe about what I said here, I think you understand that developing the habit of being thankful is better than being unthankful. It’s better for your health and for your relationships.
So, here are three very practical things we can all do this week to cultivate thankfulness:
- Think about who and what you’re thankful for all this week.
- Show your gratitude and appreciation at Thanksgiving dinner (or the next time you’re with friends and loved ones).
- Write a short letter or or card expressing your thankfulness to a loved one (or loved ones).
And let me take this opportunity to say how grateful I am for you, dear reader. Over the years, your thoughtful comments and encouragement have blessed me more than you know. May you and yours have a very joy-filled thanks-giving!