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A Thankful Heart is a Healthy Heart

Did you know that in the Net Bible there are 77 verses that have the words “give thanks?”  The first is found in 2 Samuel 22:50, “So I will give you thanks, O Lord, before the nations! I will sing praises to you.” The last is found in Revelation 11:17 “with these words: ‘We give you thanks, Lord God, the All-Powerful, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign…’”

 1 Chronicles 16:8Give thanks to the Lord! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations!” Over and over in verse after verse we are commanded to “give thanks.” Why is it that God would command us to give thanks? Shouldn’t unsolicited thanks mean more than a mere response to a command? Anyone who has raised, or taught children, understands that children must be taught to say, “thank you.” It doesn’t seem to come to us naturally.

I believe that God created us with a need to give thanks. A thankful heart is a healthy heart! God’s desire in commanding us to give thanks is not to somehow make Himself feel better about what He has given. He tells us to give thanks for our own health’s sake.

Consider the words of the Psalmist, “Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again givethanksto my God for his saving intervention.” Psalm 42:5 The Psalmist speaks words of health to his depressed soul reminding himself of the times when he gave thanks by assuring himself that the time will come again when he will give thanks. In remembering the joy of giving thanks and anticipating God’s faithfulness which will restore him to a place of once again giving thanks he seeks to bring health to his depressed soul.

Once a year, we Americans, celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. It all started because a group of God followers wanted to rejoice in God’s provisions. In the midst of enjoying the plenty He had provided they longed to express their thanks. Those of us who live in an affluent culture have much in way of possessions for which we can give thanks. I wonder though how much of our time on Thanksgiving Day will be spent in actual giving of thanks. The average Christian home in America will spend more time buying, preparing, eating and digesting the meal while watching a football game or shopping for early black Friday sales than they will in actual giving of thanks.

I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with feasting on a feast day, relaxing and enjoying a football game with family and friends, or even shopping to get the best sales and make the most of the money the Lord gives us. God knows our hearts, right? Whether we take the time to actually say it out loud in front of others won’t make us any more thankful will it?  If not, why make a big deal out of it, saying a prayer of thanks before the meal should be enough, right?

I can’t help but wonder what more our children could learn about thanksgiving if just a little more time went in to creatively finding ways to weave giving verbal thanks to God and others throughout the Thanksgiving Day? What would happen in our own hearts as well if we searched for words to express our thanks and heard others offer thanks for us and to us?

If you decide to be a little more intentional and creative on Thanksgiving Day, please come back and leave me a comment telling me what you did and how it worked. I would love to thank God with you for all He will do through your giving thanks this year. May God bless us all and fill our hearts and homes with joy and thanksgiving!

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."