By Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon, co-host of The 700 Club Asia
It was particularly hot that day as my kids and I walked from the parking lot to the mall entrance. As we entered the elevator, immediately our youngest noticed the change in temperature and gratefully announced, “There is aircon in the elevator! Thank You, Lord!”
I was not the only one who got off that elevator smiling. Thankfulness usually has a way of bringing cheer to others. One stranger stopped to give our son an approving look before he exited with a big smile on his face.
Have you noticed how children are more openly appreciative of the many blessings we take for granted? I welcome clouds as they shield us from the heat, but when they come after the laundry has been hung, it can be quite upsetting. Once I cried in dismay, “Oh no! Rain! The laundry!” My son calmly approached me and said, “It’s okay, Mom. The plants are drinking.
It is a wonder to me how children frequently and, at times, effortlessly recognize blessings I overlook. Perhaps they take time to see. Perhaps their young uncluttered minds, free of cares and prejudice, allow them to appreciate what is good. Perhaps it is a cue to inspire me to have a thankful heart.
Psalm 116:17 reads, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” (NKJV)
As I mulled over this verse, I realize why I struggle with thankfulness. It takes effort. For an ease-loving person like me, I need to train to be thankful. That is why I am taking time to explore what Scripture has to say. The psalm says it is an offering, something that you will present and, therefore, takes time and effort. The dictionary defines offer as something you present for acceptance, which means you are giving it up.As I give thanks, I do give up something.
Pride, for one. Thanking expresses not only appreciation, but also dependence on another. Dependence is not exactly celebrated and it could be a reason why one is kept from being grateful. Giving thanks is admitting that we need others.
For instance, I believe I need to grow in the area of thanking my husband for the many big and small things he does for me and for the family. Sometimes I forget, because he does it so often or it is something expected of him as a husband or a father or I let pride get in the way, but when I repent, I have seen how expressing appreciation goes a long way. How it fills my cup when my husband spontaneously gives thanks, in the presence of family, for a hearty meal I prepared! I must learn from him.
As I give thanks, I give up focus. Focus on myself or on whatever is preoccupying me. Many times I miss out on giving thanks because I am too preoccupied, too eager to accomplish a task that I miss out on opportunities to build up others by giving thanks. How it brightens my day when my kids enter the kitchen and just give me a hug of appreciation. What activity of theirs was interrupted so that they could come and do that? Why not stop and send that thank-you text you’ve been meaning to? It just might make someone else’s day.
Or why not give up focusing on what is wrong and be thankful for what is right? Such as giving up the nasty habit of fretting. It is so easy to grumble when we are in an unpleasant situation. Like driving on EDSA and seeing hundreds of break lights before you, how can one not fret? The secret lies in thankfulness. Instead of being threatened by the row of vehicles ahead of me, I choose to do the unexpected—give thanks.
I remember the lyrics to one of Amy Grant’s hits back in the ‘80s from the song Father’s Eyes:“Eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around. Eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found.” What good is there when you are in heavy traffic? The fact that my car is moving and not standing still, and it has gas, and it is comfortably cool where I am, and I am not rushing to any appointment… so that’s why (as I spot and pass a stalled car). Suddenly, traffic is light at the other side of the flyover.
The psalmist also refers to thanksgiving as a sacrifice. How can being thankful be a sacrifice? We are so used to expressing thanks only when pleasant things happen. Ephesians 5:20 instructs us to give thanks always for all things, even for unpleasant things. That is when it becomes a sacrifice. Remember how Jesus gave thanks even when there was not enough fish and bread?
They say, when it is most difficult to be thankful, it is time to give thanks. I recall asking the Lord to help me be thankful despite the heavy burden I had. I could not find any good in my circumstance. Then I was led to look beyond my situation, not to only give thanks for visible, material blessings but for blessings unseen. The blessing of the Lord and who He is, sovereign and in control. The blessing of salvation. The blessing of the Holy Spirit. The blessing of His promises and so forth and so on. I felt the burden being lifted.
I am not as thankful as I would like to be, but I rejoice for there is progress. Psalm 69:30-31 says,“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more…” I often think God is only glorified by awesome deeds done for Him or substantial offerings, but this verse clearly reveals that God is glorified by thanksgiving.
Help us, Lord, give up to give thanks!