“Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”
1. Why do we thank Jehovah?
JEHOVAH gives us “every good gift and every perfect present.” (James 1:17) He is our loving Shepherd, and he tenderly cares for all our needs. (Psalm 23:1-3) Indeed, Jehovah deserves our sincere thanks. He is our “refuge and strength,” especially when we suffer. (Psalm 46:1) We feel the way the psalmist did who wrote: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; his loyal love endures forever.”
Our yeartext for 2015: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”
2, 3. (a) What are the dangers of becoming ungrateful? (b) What questions will we discuss in this article?
2 Why should we be thankful to Jehovah? As foretold, people in the last days have become very ungrateful. (2 Timothy 3:2) Many do not appreciate the good things Jehovah has done for them. We live in a materialistic world that encourages millions of people to buy more than they really need. As a result, many are not satisfied with what they already have. Like the ancient Israelites, we could become ungrateful and lose our appreciation for our blessings and for our precious relationship with Jehovah.
3 Think, too, about what can happen when we suffer trials. Our problems may become so overwhelming that we focus on them instead of our blessings. (Psalm 116:3) How can we remain grateful? How can we keep a positive attitude despite severe trials? Let us see.
“HOW MANY THINGS YOU HAVE DONE, O JEHOVAH”
4. How can we remain grateful to Jehovah?
4 It takes effort to remain grateful to Jehovah. First, we need to look for the ways Jehovah has blessed us personally. And then, we need to think carefully about how those blessings show God’s great love for us. When the psalmist did so, he was amazed by all the wonderful things that Jehovah had done for him.
5. What can we learn from the apostle Paul about gratitude?
5 We can learn how to be grateful to Jehovah by considering the example of the apostle Paul. We know that he meditated on his blessings because he regularly thanked God in prayer. Paul recognized that he had been “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.” He was grateful that, despite his past, God and Christ had shown him mercy and had given him the privilege of preaching to others. (Read 1 Timothy 1:12-14.) Paul was also very grateful for his Christian brothers and sisters and often thanked Jehovah for their good qualities and faithful service. (Philippians 1:3-5, 7; 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3) Paul was quick to thank Jehovah for all that his brothers had done for him when he endured trials. (Acts 28:15; 2 Corinthians 7:5-7) It does not surprise us that Paul encouraged Christians this way: “Show yourselves thankful . . . , encouraging one another with psalms, praises to God, spiritual songs sung with gratitude.”
MEDITATION AND PRAYER HELP US TO REMAIN THANKFUL
6. Why are you grateful to Jehovah?
6 How can we imitate Paul’s example? We can meditate on what Jehovah has done for us personally. (Psalm 116:12) If someone asked you, “What blessings from Jehovah are you grateful for?” how would you answer? Would you include your precious relationship with Jehovah? Or the forgiveness of your sins because of Christ’s ransom sacrifice? Would you mention Christian brothers and sisters who have helped you during difficult times? Would you say how grateful you are for your marriage mate or children? Take time to meditate on the many ways God has blessed you. This will motivate you to thank him every day.
Imitate the grateful attitude of Hannah and Hezekiah, and thank Jehovah for what he has done for you
7. (a) Why should we thank Jehovah in our prayers? (b) How will you benefit from thanking Jehovah in your prayers?
7 When we meditate on all our blessings, we will want to thank Jehovah in prayer. (Psalm 95:2; 100:4, 5) Some people only use prayer to ask God for things. But Jehovah is pleased when our prayers include thanks to him for what we already have. In the Bible, we find many examples of God’s servants, such as Hannah and Hezekiah, who thanked Jehovah in their prayers. (1 Samuel 2:1-10; Isaiah 38:9-20) So imitate their grateful attitude, and thank Jehovah for what he has done for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18) When you do so, you will feel refreshed, your love for God will grow, and you will become and remain his friend.
8. What could cause us to become ungrateful?
8 If we are not careful, we can easily lose our appreciation for Jehovah’s good gifts. Why? Because we are imperfect and have inherited an unthankful attitude from our first parents. Jehovah gave Adam and Eve a paradise home and made sure that they had everything they needed. They could have lived forever in peace. (Genesis 1:28) But they did not appreciate their blessings. They were greedy and wanted more. In the end, they lost everything. (Genesis 3:6, 7, 17-19) We live in an unthankful world, and we too could become unthankful for all that Jehovah has done for us. We could lose our appreciation for our close friendship with God or our privilege of being part of a worldwide brotherhood. We could be distracted by the things of this world. (1 John 2:15-17) To avoid that trap, we need to meditate on our many blessings and regularly thank God for the privilege we have of being his people.
WHEN COPING WITH TRIALS
9. When suffering severe trials, why should we meditate on our blessings?
9 A grateful attitude will help us to endure severe trials. We may feel overwhelmed by terrible situations that suddenly change our lives, such as the unfaithfulness of our marriage mate, a serious illness, the death of a loved one, or a devastating natural disaster. Meditating on Jehovah’s blessings will give us comfort and will strengthen us to endure. Consider the following experiences.
10. How did Irina benefit from meditating on her blessings?
10 Irina, a regular pioneer in North America, was married to an elder who was unfaithful to her and abandoned her and their children. * (See footnote.) What helps Irina to continue 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 endured many tragic circumstances in her life, her joyful attitude helps her to cope successfully and to encourage others.
11. What helped Kyung-sook to cope with a serious 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 endured many trials before, they always had good health. She says: “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 was Jason comforted after his wife’s death?
12 Jason, who serves at a branch office in Africa, has been in the full-time service for more than 30 years. He says: “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 given Jason some relief? He says: “At one point 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 has helped Sheryl to endure 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 almost everything. She says: “I lost my home, and I lost most of my family.” Her father, her mother, and three of her siblings died in the powerful storm waters. What has helped Sheryl to endure this tragedy without becoming bitter? Sheryl is still grateful to Jehovah because she meditates on all the blessings she has. She says: “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 adds: “I am very thankful that Jehovah is my God. He always gives us the things we need.” Yes, when we are thankful for our blessings, we avoid being overwhelmed by grief. This will help us to endure any difficulties we may experience.
“AS FOR ME, I WILL EXULT IN JEHOVAH”
14. What exciting hope do we have? (See opening picture.)
14 Throughout history, Jehovah’s people have been grateful for their blessings. After they were saved from Pharaoh and his armies at the Red Sea, the Israelites joyfully sang songs, praising and thanking Jehovah. (Exodus 15:1-21) Today, one of our most treasured blessings is knowing that soon there will be no more pain. (Psalm 37:9-11; Isaiah 25:8; 33:24) Imagine how we will feel when Jehovah destroys all of his enemies and welcomes us into a new world of peace and righteousness. How thankful we will be to Jehovah on that day!
One of our most treasured blessings is knowing that soon there will be no more pain
15. What are you determined to do throughout 2015?
15 During 2015, we look forward to many blessings from Jehovah. Of course, we may suffer some trials. But whatever happens, we know that Jehovah will never abandon us. (Deuteronomy 31:8; Psalm 9:9, 10) He will continue to give us everything we need to serve him faithfully. Let us be determined to imitate the attitude 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.” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18) Throughout the coming year, may we continue to meditate on all our blessings and be encouraged to follow the advice of our 2015 yeartext: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good.”
^ par. 10 Some names in this article have been changed.