The Gift of Giving Thanks
This article was written by Zach Windahl and published by Jesus Calling
For many people, it’s difficult to see how life can be considered a gift, because that means they’d need to acknowledge the Giver. Most people want to make it seem like they don’t need someone else’s help. We humans take pride in our independence.
The Jewish tradition has an inspiring view of gratitude that I think every person, no matter their religion, can learn something from. Every day it is the goal of those who practice this particular tradition to recite one hundred blessings—or thanks—to God, beginning with eighteen blessings right when they wake up in the morning. The tradition says that as you are sleeping, your soul leaves your body, and what better way to come back to reality upon waking than to recite eighteen blessings?
But why eighteen?
Because in Judaism, each letter is represented by a number, a system called gematria, and numbers/letters placed together create a word. In this case, the number eighteen is a combination of the letters chet and yud, creating the word chai (pronounced khai).
Chai means “life.”
So, the reason many Jewish people begin their day with eighteen blessings is because they are grateful for another day of life.
Grateful for clothes to wear.
Eyes to see.
Feet to stand on.
Strength to carry themselves.
The list goes on, and throughout the day there are over a hundred total blessings shared.
One hundred things
Imagine how different our view of life would be if we said one hundred things we were grateful for each and every day. It would automatically ground us, and we would have much more clarity on the big picture. We would see that God’s hand over everything is a gift. Everything. From the depths of creation to the smallest moment.
Often we turn into grumblers, complaining about the most trivial life events. Yes, there are plenty of bad things happening around us in the world, but it is our responsibility to make them better instead of worse. We have the choice each day to focus on taking actions and building disciplines that will bring the kingdom closer.
Jesus’ brother, James, teaches us that every good gift is from God (James 1:17). Every single one of them.
All good. All gifts.
Attitude of gratitude
The biggest mistake in the world is having a mindset that any of this is owed to us. We need to shift our attitude to a place of gratitude today, not tomorrow. Not when we’re sick and finally appreciate good health. Not when things are bad financially and we appreciate what we did have. No, let’s be people who learn to appreciate every single thing now.
Just saying “thank you” is one of the simplest forms of prayer. It brings us closer to God in new levels as we’re thanking Him for the big things and small things, admitting the source of all goodness is Him, not anything we do.
And the more we give thanks to God, the more we see Him moving in our lives. An object in motion stays in motion; it’s that type of situation. The more God’s goodness is on our minds, the stronger our sense of it will become. We will begin to see Him moving in and around us constantly. His presence will become all the greater, allowing us to appreciate what is right here.
Either God is present in every moment, or He isn’t. Which do you believe?
Some of us need a complete attitude shift. What we look for, we will find. If we believe God is good and we are constantly grateful for all He is doing in our lives, we are going to see Him more. And the opposite is true as well.
As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit empowers us and helps us with the process of renewing our minds so we can see things from a different perspective—from His perspective. We’ll see what is important and what isn’t. We’ll realize there is so much more going on here than what it might seem.
But it’s a choice we get to make daily. There are 86,400 seconds in a day; it’s not going to hurt to take a few of those seconds and thank Him for all He has blessed us with.
Adapted from See the Good: Finding Grace, Gratitude, and Optimism in Every Day by Zach Windahl (Bethany House Publishers, 2022). Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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