A Grateful Heart

W. Terry Varner
November 20, 2016

Again, this month our nation will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Such celebration ought to be daily rather than a “day”. We ought to be provoked to great thought. We have so much to be thankful for in America, but we have much more be thankful for in our spiritual blessings possessed in Christ (cf. Eph. 1:3).    

Perhaps, it would be good for each of us to consider the words of David, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?” (Ps. 116:12). David’s question is not commonly asked even by those of us who are God’s children, though to our shame. More commonly asked are questions like: “How can I find a better job?” “How can I have more fun?” “How can I make more money?” “How can I live longer and be happier?”

Again—perhaps, the reason we do not often ask the question David asked in Psalm 116:12 is that we may be wrongfully crediting our achievements and successes in life to our own credit, failing to realize our abundant blessings are from our God and not from our own doing. Only when we understand God as the Giver of gifts shall we turn our minds in thanksgiving to Him. Often when one of our peers do us a favor we respond, “What can I do for you in return?” Yet, living on God’s footstool and enjoying His offer of salvation and all of its attendant blessings, breathing His air, drinking His water, etc., we often fail to thank Him. This all to our shame, especially as Christians!

The life of Fanny Crosby is filled with interesting and humbling thoughts for each of us. She wrote over 8,000 hymns and many of these our favorites— “To God Be The Glory,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Redeemed,” “All The Way The Savior Leads Me”—and doing so while she was blind. Her life story is interesting. She was only six weeks old when a doctor made a careless medical error which resulted in her blindness. The doctor never forgave himself and moved from the area to practice medicine.

Fanny Crosby lived to be 95 years of age. Her experience with blindness did not turn her bitter or cause her to wallow in self-pity. [Neither did it cause her parents to file litigation, which would be an also immediate and normal response today.] As she wrote her life story, she spoke of the doctor and his mistake with the following words: “If I could meet him now, I would say, ‘Thank you, thank you’—over and over again—for making me blind.” Turning her thoughts to our merciful God, she thanked Him for a life of blindness. She accepted her blindness as a gift and claiming that she probably would never have written 1000s of hymns. Her attitude is amazing. Do you really feel like complaining about your state of life?

It is my firm belief that many sins of mankind and therefore of our society, past and present, can be traced to the oft-undetected root of ingratitude or lack of gratitude. The “attitude of gratitude” is something ALL of us desperately need to cultivate and mature in our hearts and lives. The presence of gratitude results in a host of related blessings. Likewise, the absence of gratitude has profound lethal repercussions.

John Henry Jowett said, “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” Gratitude as a vaccine can prevent the invasion of a disgruntled attitude. Gratitude as an antitoxin can prevent the disastrous effects of certain attitudinal poisons. Gratitude as an antiseptic can soothe by destroying the poison of grumbling, murmuring, and complaining.