How many would agree with the following statement: There should be a refund on calories for things that didn’t taste as good as you expected!”  In like fashion, we are too busy reacting to a life that we wish we could get “a refund for” instead of choosing intentionally to be grateful for the one our Sovereign God has handpicked for us!  Psalm 30, which begins and ends with “I will,” recently convicted me with the following truth: Thanksgiving is not an involuntary celebration but an INTENTIONAL CHOICE!

Where do we look to be intentionally grateful? According to the Psalmist, God-honoring thanksgiving requires three simple choices:

Choose CORRECTED gratitude.

1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. 4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

The place to start being grateful is probably the last place we would think: where God has confronted/corrected us.  In this Psalm, David is likely processing how God corrected his proud numbering of the people-which included the consequences of 70,000 able-bodied Israelite men losing their lives.  And yet…David chose to see God’s goodness and grace in even those dismal results of his sin.  Do you realize that God is never more loving and affirming to us than when He is correcting/refining us? 

(If you struggle to see it that way, may I encourage you to read Hebrews 12:5-11 for a divine perspective on God’s correction.)

5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

The only reason the downward trend/consequences of your past and present sins have not ruined you yet is because of the intervening hand of God!  Are you acutely aware of that-if you are, you have no trouble mustering up some gratitude!  God purpose is not just about DELIVERING FROM the consequences of sin but DELIVERING UNTO the gratitude of cleansing!

Choose DEPENDENT gratitude.

6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. 8 I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. 9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.

One of the quickest ways to discover gratitude is to contemplate the deep voids that would exist without God in your life and mine!  David recorded his prayer for deliverance from his sin of independence of the Lord. In pride he felt secure, thinking he would never be shaken.  The word “secure” (šelew) implies a careless ease. Apparently he had forgotten his need to trust in the Lord and boasted in self-confidence.  David quickly realized how much he needed God, and we would do well to do the same.  

One of the primary reasons we struggle to be grateful is that we fail to realize how much of our everyday prosperity is provided and protected by the Lord.  Do you realize how quickly your life would fall apart without Him?  Job, a man with everything you could need or want, lost it all within just moments of God’s “hedge of protection” being removed? H.U. Westermayer reminds us, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”   Seasons of increased need possess probably the greatest potential because, in them, our choice to be grateful shines the brightest!

Choose TRANSFORMED gratitude.

11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

When we come to God with our best attempt at gratitude, He then transforms our perspective on everything/everyone else in our lives!

Notice how David’s emotions were transformed.  Using terminology from festive occasions (dancing and joy) David rehearsed how God delivered him from his lamentable state. No longer silent, the psalmist wants everyone to know of the change in his life—from mourning to dancing, from sackcloth to gladness, from silence to praise. Those who actively CHOOSE gratitude instead of waiting to react in gratitude truly believe that CHANGE is in the air!

It is striking David’s purpose is also revolutionized.  David vowed to acknowledge and thank the Lord his God forever. Every deliverance a believer experiences should likewise prompt a full expression of praise which should be our driving purpose.  I recently read, Jesus doesn’t look over your shoulder for someone more important.”  Wow!  God longs to hear gratitude from YOUR HEART AND LIPS!  It is special to Him…that makes it a big deal…and your purpose!

The Texas town of Sutherland Springs that saw horrors unfold one week prior, when a gunman unleashed a hail of bullets inside a church, killing 26 people, held its first Sunday service only one week later November 12 in the wake of the mass shooting. The service was supposed to be held at a community center which could hold a few dozen people. It was moved to a tent in a baseball field when organizers realized hundreds planned to show up.  Later Sunday, a memorial opened inside the church (pictured above-courtesy of Fox News). The interior is white from floor to ceiling, and the tribute includes 26 chairs, which include red crosses on the back and roses placed on the front.  Psalm 100, which was going to be read when the shooting began but was never heard, is displayed on the front wall.  Despite all of that carnage, they chose to “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.”

It really does come down to a choice not circumstances.  According to John Maxwell, The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”  That can be and should be TODAY for you with the attitude of gratitude.  Will you join me in deciding to pull up a Sutherland Springs type of chair to the “adult table” and have a God-honoring Thanksgiving by choosing CORRECTED GRATITUDE, DEPENDENT GRATITUDE, and TRANSFORMED GRATITUDE?

 Here is a link to the full sermon on this subject: “I WILL Give Thanks!”

What additional aspect of your relationship with God do you choose to focus upon to generate sincere, intentional gratitude that defy even your circumstances?