“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)

We used to have a framed list in our dining room with a pen perched on top of it.  It was by no means Pinterest worthy and had no beautiful hand lettered calligraphy but rather a seemingly random list of things constantly being added to, making it even more random as time went on….  

  • Sunshine 
  • Children playing (i.e. they exist and are not arguing)
  • Found a taxi eventually
  • Elmo
  • Strawberries arrived at the market
  • Only one kid is throwing up
  • We have heat
  • Jesus
  • Peanut butter

And, on the list would go, our list of thanks.  It was our weapon in the fight for joy, peace and contentment during a hard season.  We quickly found that when we gave thanks, the good seemed to increase, and the bad became more bearable.

There’s a reason the phrase “give thanks” appears in the Bible 58 different times and the word “thanksgiving” 39.  Giving thanks is for our good. It changes us and makes us better. It humbles us. Giving thanks makes us look up to God, and when we rightly see ourselves as children of a good Father, we are transformed.

So, what do you think would happen if we took some time in the midst of the busy to pause?  To breathe. To truly take a deep look, listen for His Holy whispers and then give thanks.  

Maybe we would see the God who created pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger and didn’t stop there but went on to create a person who would come up with the brilliant idea to put them all together.   

As we grieve those who are not present, maybe we would be able to give thanks for the countless things that made them someone we loved.   

If we are wrestling with past mistakes, maybe we would see the Son who covers all those mistakes and does not remember them.

In Psalm 118, the people of God are called to give thanks to the Lord.  The writer then goes on to lead them by example, creating his list of thanks.  He models for us the beauty and the benefits of giving thanks.  

The Process of Giving Thanks Increases Your List of Thanks

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. (Psalm 118:5-7)

He starts out recognizing how God answered his prayer and set him free when he was in distress.  This alone is a very big deal. He could rightly stop there, but somehow, he goes on to expand it.  As he reflects on this same trial, he recognizes that as God was busy setting Him free, God was also on his side, which helped him to not fear man. Then, he sees that God wasn’t just on his side, standing there inactive, but on his side as his helper, which means he can trust that he will ultimately be victorious. The process of giving thanks gave way to more thanks, which left him with peace.


Selah Journal Prompt: 

Throughout the Psalms, which were originally used as songs, we see the word “Selah.”  It provided a pause in the midst of the reading or singing. So, will you “selah” for a moment with me and write out some thanks? Maybe you can even gather your family around the table and do this together?  

  • Start by writing one thing to thank God for.  Then, ask the Lord to expand your view of that blessing.  What layers can you peel apart and thank God for?  

Faith Increases as we Remember and Give Thanks for What God has Done

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (Psalm 118:8-9)

Still reflecting on that same trial, the psalmist finds his faith increased.  He is able to believe that taking refuge in the Lord is better than trusting man. Then, he expands this even, just as he did earlier, and proclaims that the Lord is even more trustworthy than the princes who have authority to rule over others here on earth.  God isn’t more trustworthy than some people, but all people.  

Selah Journal Prompt:

  • Reflecting on the same situation as you did before, how has your faith in God increased through this blessing?  
  • Where are you tempted to trust in man more than God?  Take some time to write out a declaration as the Psalmist did that God is better and you will trust Him more.  

Giving Thanks Produces Joy

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous …. I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. (Psalm 118:14-17)

As we remember and thank God for all that he has done, our transformation continues, and we are filled with joy.  The humble posture of giving thanks allows the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in our lives.

As we give thanks, we are filled with the desire to worship as well as the urge to tell others about what God has done.    

Selah Journal Prompt: 

  • Take a moment to reflect on the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Now, as you reflect on the same situation as before, how has God used this situation to increase the Spirit’s fruit in your life? 
  • Who needs to know about what God has done in your life through this situation?

As we enter this holiday season, whatever our circumstances may be, I pray that our eyes will be firmly fixed on the One who made us and loves us, that we will rightly see ourselves as children of a good Father who gives good things, and that our giving thanks will give way to more thanks, increasing our faith and producing joy.