God commands us to give Him thanks for everything He has done, is doing and will do for us. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (NKJV, Phil. 4:6).
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1). “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
But this is not the normal response of the sinful heart of man. Even in times of health and prosperity, do we genuinely thank God for what He has given us?
One day, our Lord cleansed 10 lepers who cried out to Him, “ ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well’ ” (Luke 17:13-19). As in the entire nation of Israel, many thousands were physically healed by the Lord Jesus, but relatively few really believed in Him as God and Savior.
In fact, from the beginning of the world, even in the hearts of our first parents, Adam and Eve, “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. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:21, 22).
Difficult circumstances for thankfulness
While inside the body of a gigantic fish deep in the Mediterranean Sea, with “weeds…wrapped around [his] head” (Jonah 2:5), the disobedient prophet Jonah cried out:
I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the LORD. (Jonah 2:9)
In response to that amazing prayer, “the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).
And what about the prophet Daniel? When threatened with death in a lions’ den for offering a prayer to “any god or man” (Dan. 6:7) besides the king of Medo-Persia, Daniel “went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Dan. 6: 10).
Thus, in every conceivable circumstance, “by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).
Why? Because “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
What will believers be doing in heaven? We will be saying:
Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever. (Rev. 7:12)
So let us ask God to help us today to thank Him for His infinite grace and love in sending His Son to pay in full the penalty for our sins which we could never pay. What a gift!
Yes, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).
Dr. John C. Whitcomb is heard weekly on Encounter God’s Truth, a radio and Internet broadcast outreach of Whitcomb Ministries, Inc. He has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for 60 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. The book he coauthored with the late Dr. Henry Morris in 1961, The Genesis Flood, has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern biblical creationism movement. Dr. Whitcomb’s broadcasts, sermons, lectures and writings are available at SermonAudio. To receive the very latest on his ministry, see Facebook.