After every birthday and Christmas, my mum would ask me “have you written your thank you letters yet?” I was encouraged to write out my thanks to relatives and friends for their gifts and it was something I never rushed to do. It seemed a bit of a chore that I then had to write a letter, I said thank you at the time the gift was given after all. But writing a letter was a matter of custom, of manners, it was expected.
Saying thanks to God was part of the format of prayer that I was taught as a child, you reeled off your thanks before presenting your requests. I didn’t actually stop to think whether I was really thankful, I just knew I should be. A matter of politeness, or courtesy.
But the strange thing is, once you start, “thank you for the day, thank you for my food, thank you for my friends”, you start to think of more things that you can say thanks for and you begin to realise that yes, actually, I am thankful, and as the list gets longer, I do have a lot to be thankful for. A strange thing happens to your soul as it lightens and you become aware of God’s goodness in your life.
The practice delivers the feelings.
When we’re soul weary it is so easy to dwell on all that is hard and difficult, because we feel overwhelmed by these things. It takes courage and discipline to look for the good and at times we don’t really feel grateful.
If the only good thing you can see through your tears is that God is good, start here. There is no better place to be grateful, than in his presence, thankful for his comfort.
When we start to look for even the small things to thank God for we start to list more things to be thankful for.
This practice of saying thanks breeds a hopeful and grateful heart and when we are looking for things to be grateful for we lose sight of the things we could grumble about.
This practice of gratitude lifts and lightens our soul. When we focus on the good, the positive, our soul thrives.
Our soul wants to praise something, we want to look for the good. We search, looking for the best, looking for something to honour with our time, energy and life, looking for something to worship. It is built into us to look for the great and the good. This is not just some hedonistic search for pleasure, this is a search for something that makes our soul come alive, alive to the good that God has placed into his creation.
When we sense the presence of God, our soul is lifted to thank and praise him. We know deep down that he is holy and is all good. Many extol the virtues of practicing gratitude and you may know the psychological benefits, but to be truly grateful you need to have a focus for that gratitude. There needs to be someone to whom the gratitude is directed. Unless there is someone to focus the thanks towards it remains somewhat empty and purposeless.
How great that we get to focus our gratitude towards someone, that we get to thank God, for all that he is, for all that he has done through Jesus and for all that he is still doing!
Let’s list our thanks for the small things, let’s look for the beauty of creation, but even when it is hard in our suffering we can still thank him.
When we are still not feeling grateful, it helps to think of the giver and that we want to bless them. We become less important, less self-absorbed, we become aware of the giver’s generosity and thoughtfulness. We give thanks not for a self-righteous sense of virtuousness but because we start the practice of seeing the good, our soul can breathe and our mind is transformed. We see the giver of the gift, we see their heart and their intention and there is good and it is worth praising.
Bible verses on giving thanks
And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. …… And whatever you do…..do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits Psalm 103: 2
How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High,,
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16: 34
Philippians 4: 6-8, James 1:12, James 1:17,
Create a gratitude book
There is something more attractive about using pretty tools for tasks. This gratitude journal is a beautiful book where you can record your beautiful thanks and praises. Write down the things you are grateful for as a thank you letter to God.
Materials and equipment
strong or linen thread
paper hole making equipment
Collect together some white paper and intersperse some patterned papers (not essential – just pretty!) through your stack of papers.
Cut all the paper into the same size a little smaller than your chosen finished book size. Fold the paper stack in half and make 4 holes down the centre middle of the pages. (what will be the spine)
Sew the pages together with a hessian piece on the back of the spine. Start in one of the middle holes then sew to an edge and back to the middle then up to the other edge. Knot the ends of the threads together and trim the ends.
Your two pieces of card for the cover need to be slightly larger than your folded pages.
Place the cards on your fabric with a gap that will be the spine between the cards. Depending on how thick your paper inner pages are, leave a space large enough for the paper book spine to fit in between the two cards. Using strong tape join the cards together leaving a gap for the spine of the pages.
Cut the fabric about 3cm larger on all sides than the joined cards.
Place the card on top of the face down fabric. Fold the edges of the fabric over the edges of the cards, tucking in the corners. Stick down the fabric with PVA glue.
Stick the end of a length of ribbon near to the middle inside of the cover, to act as a bookmark.
Place your pages on the cover. Glue down the end pages of your paper book to the inside of the cover.
Use your book to regularly write down your thanks, list the small things and the large things, the times of learning and discipline that may even hurt, and thank the Lord for his mercies, new every morning.
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This is from Re: create, restore your creative soul, a creative devotional guide. Read more about it here.