“Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”
1. Why is Jehovah worthy of our thanks?
JEHOVAH, the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present,” is indeed worthy of our thanks. (Jas. 1:17) As our loving Shepherd, he tenderly cares for all our physical and spiritual needs. (Ps. 23:1-3) He has proved to be “our refuge and strength”
Our yeartext for 2015: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”
2, 3. (a) What are the dangers of taking our blessings for granted? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
2 Why is it important for us to consider this matter of giving thanks? As foretold, people in these last days have become increasingly unthankful. (2 Tim. 3:2) Many take their blessings for granted. Influenced by the commercial world and its advertising, millions of people strive to obtain more instead of being content with what they have. We too can be affected by this unappreciative spirit. Like the ancient Israelites, we could become ungrateful and lose appreciation for our precious relationship with Jehovah and for the blessings that we have received from him.
3 Then, too, consider what can happen when we undergo difficult trials. At such times, we could easily become overwhelmed and lose sight of our blessings. (Ps. 116:3) Therefore, how can we cultivate a grateful heart and maintain it? And what will help us to remain positive even when we are undergoing severe trials? Let us see.
“HOW MANY THINGS YOU HAVE DONE, O JEHOVAH”
4. How can we maintain a grateful heart?
4 If we are to cultivate a grateful heart and maintain it, we must acknowledge and meditate appreciatively on our blessings from Jehovah and carefully consider his acts of loyal love. When the psalmist did so, he was awed by the many wonderful things that Jehovah had done.
5. What can we learn from the apostle Paul about cultivating gratitude?
5 We can learn much from the apostle Paul about cultivating gratitude. Evidently, he meditated on his blessings, for he frequently expressed heartfelt thanks. Paul well knew that he had been “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.” Hence, he gave thanks that despite his past sinful conduct, God and Christ had shown him mercy and had entrusted him with a ministry. (Read 1 Timothy 1:12-14.) Paul also deeply appreciated his fellow Christians and often thanked Jehovah for their fine qualities and faithful service. (Phil. 1:3-5, 7; 1 Thess. 1:2, 3) And when Paul faced trialsome situations, he was quick to thank Jehovah for the timely support that he received from his spiritual brothers. (Acts 28:15; 2 Cor. 7:5-7) It is not surprising, therefore, that Paul’s writings encourage Christians: “Show yourselves thankful . . . , encouraging one another with psalms, praises to God, spiritual songs sung with gratitude.”
MEDITATION AND PRAYER
—KEYS TO MAINTAINING THANKFULNESS
6. For what are you particularly grateful to Jehovah?
6 How can we imitate Paul’s fine example in cultivating and expressing gratitude? Like Paul, we need to meditate on what Jehovah has done for us personally. (Ps. 116:12) If you were asked, ‘What blessings from Jehovah are you grateful for?’ how would you answer? Would you include your precious relationship with Jehovah? Or the forgiveness that you receive because of your faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice? Would you relate the names of brothers and sisters who have stood by you during various difficult trials? Of course, your beloved marriage mate or your precious children would not escape your mention. Taking time to meditate on such beautiful blessings from your loving Father, Jehovah, will fill your heart with gratitude and will move you to give thanks every day.
7. (a) Why should we offer prayers of thanksgiving? (b) How will you benefit from expressing gratitude in your prayers?
7 When we have our blessings firmly fixed in mind and heart, we are ready to pray to Jehovah and offer thanksgiving. (Ps. 95:2; 100:4, 5) Many view prayer as merely a way to ask God for things. We, however, know that Jehovah is pleased when we express thanks for what we have. The Bible contains numerous heartwarming prayers of thanksgiving, including those offered by Hannah and Hezekiah. (1 Sam. 2:1-10; Isa. 38:9-20) So imitate those faithful servants who showed a grateful spirit. Yes, thank Jehovah in prayer for the blessings that you have. (1 Thess. 5:17, 18) The benefits from doing so are many. Your spirits will be lifted, you will grow in love for Jehovah, and you will draw ever closer to him.
8. What could cause us to lose appreciation for all that Jehovah has done for us?
8 Why should we remain alert to the danger of losing our appreciation for Jehovah’s goodness? Because we have inherited a tendency to be unthankful. Consider: Our original parents, Adam and Eve, were placed in a paradise garden. All their needs were filled, and they had the prospect of living forever in peace. (Gen. 1:28) But they did not appreciate their blessings. They greedily desired more. As a result, they lost everything. (Gen. 3:6, 7, 17-19) Surrounded by an unthankful world, we too could begin to lose sight of all that Jehovah has done for us. We could begin to take our friendship with him for granted. We might lose appreciation for the privilege that we have to be part of our worldwide brotherhood. We could become absorbed in things of this world that will soon pass away. (1 John 2:15-17) To avoid that downward spiral, we want to meditate on our blessings and regularly thank Jehovah for the privilege we have of being his people.
WHEN COPING WITH TRIALS
9. When confronted with grievous trials, why should we reflect on our blessings?
9 Having a grateful heart can help us to cope with grievous trials. We may feel overwhelmed if we are suddenly confronted with life-altering circumstances, such as the unfaithfulness of a marriage mate, a life-threatening illness, the death of a loved one, or the devastating effects of a natural disaster. At such times, we will be comforted and strengthened by reflecting on our blessings. Consider the following real-life experiences.
10. How did Irina benefit from counting her blessings?
10 Irina *, a regular pioneer in North America, was married to an elder who proved unfaithful and abandoned her and their children. What helped Irina to go on serving Jehovah faithfully? She says: “I am grateful for Jehovah’s personal care for me as an individual. By choosing to count my blessings each day, I can see what a privilege it is to be known and loved by our protective heavenly Father. I know that he will never abandon me.” Although Irina has experienced many tragic circumstances in her life, her joyful spirit continues to sustain her and she is a source of encouragement to others.
11. What helped Kyung-sook to cope with a life-threatening illness?
11 Kyung-sook, who lives in Asia, pioneered with her husband for more than 20 years. Suddenly, she was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and was told that she had from three to six months to live. Although she and her husband had faced many trials, large and small, they had always felt confident about their health. She said: “This health issue hit me hard. I felt that I had lost everything, and I was very scared.” What has helped Kyung-sook to cope? She says: “Every night before going to bed, I go to the rooftop of our home and pray out loud about five things that I am grateful for from that day. Then I feel reassured, and I am moved to express my love for Jehovah.” How has Kyung-sook benefited from these nightly prayers? She says: “I have come to realize that Jehovah sustains us through trialsome circumstances and that there are far more blessings in our lives than there are trials.”
12. How did Jason find comfort after the loss of his wife?
12 Jason, who serves at a branch office in Africa, has been in full-time service for more than 30 years. He relates: “Seven years ago, I lost my wife in death, and the pain can be overwhelming. Letting myself dwell on what she experienced while fighting cancer can be very disheartening.” What has helped Jason to cope? “At one point,” he says, “I was remembering a pleasant time that my wife and I had spent together, and I thanked Jehovah in prayer for that memory. I felt a sense of relief and thereafter started to thank Jehovah regularly for such happy memories. Gratefulness has made a big difference in my outlook. I still feel the pain of the loss, but thanking Jehovah for having had a good marriage and for the privilege of serving him with someone who deeply loved him has improved my outlook.”
“I am very thankful that Jehovah is my God.”
13. What helped Sheryl to deal with the loss of most of her family?
13 When Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines in late 2013, Sheryl, who was only 13 years old at the time, lost virtually everything. She said: “I lost my home, and I lost most of my family.” Her father, mother, and three siblings died in the powerful storm surge. What has helped Sheryl to get through this tragedy without becoming bitter? She has a grateful heart and remains conscious of the blessings she still has. “I saw all that the brothers and sisters did to bring relief and encouragement to those who needed help. I knew that brothers all around the world were praying for me.” She added: “I am very thankful that Jehovah is my God. He always gives us the things we need.” Yes, being conscious of our blessings is a powerful antidote to being swallowed up by grief. An appreciative heart helps us to go on despite any distressing events that we may face.
“AS FOR ME, I WILL EXULT IN JEHOVAH”
14. What exciting prospect awaits us? (See opening image.)
14 Throughout history, Jehovah’s people have rejoiced in their blessings. For example, after being delivered from Pharaoh and his armies at the Red Sea, the Israelites expressed their joy in songs of praise and thanksgiving. (Ex. 15:1-21) Today, among our most treasured blessings is our sure hope of deliverance from everything that causes us pain and distress. (Ps. 37:9-11; Isa. 25:8; 33:24) Imagine how we will feel when Jehovah crushes all his enemies and welcomes us into a new world of peace and righteousness. What a day for thanksgiving that will be!
15. What are you determined to do throughout 2015?
15 We look forward to receiving countless spiritual blessings from Jehovah during 2015. Of course, we may also experience some trials. Whatever may come, we know that Jehovah will never abandon us. (Deut. 31:8; Ps. 9:9, 10) He will continue to provide everything we need to serve him faithfully. Therefore, may we be determined to maintain a spirit like that of the prophet Habakkuk, who said: “Although the fig tree may not blossom, and there may be no fruit on the vines; although the olive crop may fail, and the fields may produce no food; although the flock may disappear from the pen, and there may be no cattle in the stalls; yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:17, 18) Yes, throughout the coming year, may we reflect joyfully on our blessings and be moved to follow the admonition of our 2015 yeartext: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”
^ par. 10 Some names in this article have been changed.