Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is a great God. - Psalm 95:1-3
The Bible is filled with Scripture that implore us to be thankful: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18); “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20); “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
Yet, there are conditions and circumstances in life where it is difficult to be in a grateful spirit. There is so much turmoil in our world today that makes it tough sometimes to be in a thankful mood. The question is—how much of our feelings of gratitude are weighed down, tainted, colored, by our situation and how much of it is influenced by our attitude?
I heard a philosophy professor that posed this situation to his class. "What if one of the students in this class just stood up, slammed his books to the floor, and stomped out? What do you think my reaction would be?"
One student said he should be angry. “How dare that student do such a thing. Get his name, his ID and make sure he is kicked out of this class or at least his grade is docked.”
Another student said that the professor should be hurt, “Here you have spent so much time and effort in preparing this lecture and this student would be so rude to do such a thing.”
The professor said, “Well, maybe I should feel guilty. What did I say that offended the student so much?”
One set of fact, all kinds of responses. The professor’s point in this little exercise was to remember that your responses, whatever they might be, are not solely determined by what happened—the facts (the person walking out of the room), but more by something inside of you—about your attitudes, your assumptions about life.
They are like lenses of the mind that are always at work. Sometimes they shrink, sometimes they magnify, sometimes they color, sometimes they obscure. They are always at work. “The eye is the lamp of the body,” Jesus says. It is all about that word “assumptions.” If your assumptions about life are bad, then your whole body will be filled with darkness, with emptiness, fear, negativity, mistrust that distort everything you see around you.
Yet the passage from Psalm 95 above tells us to be thankful because “For the LORD is a great God.” It does not say, “give thanks, for things are good.” But give thanks for God is great. The psalmist shows us we should praise God because of God’s character and not our circumstances.
No matter what we are facing, no matter what we have, no matter what we think we don’t have, God is still a great God. We must look through the eyes of gratitude. And when we do, there is so much we are grateful for!