“Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:13).

Ben Patterson was angry and bitter at God. His girlfriend, whom he had been seriously dating for five years, had broken up with him. Ever since, he had been rebelling against God. He would wake up with a hangover, drink his morning coffee, and stare blankly at magazines covering his Bible. “The sight made me think about praying,” he writes. “But about what? I chose something I naively thought safe: I began to give thanks. Big mistake. Well it was a big mistake if he wanted to keep rebelling. He simply started thanking God for the weather and music, coffee and cup, utensils and napkins. As he expressed his gratitude, unbidden joy began to trickle into his soul and eventually flooded his heart. He felt God’s goodness, and tears came. The experience led to repentance and a balm for the bitterness in his soul.

Gratitude and praise to God are far more dynamic—and even explosive—than what happens when we say a simple thank-you to someone. Deep elemental forces are unleashed, and we find ourselves in harmony with the wonders and joys of the One who loves us and made all things beautiful. When we stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon or stare in awe of the pistils in a flower, we feel the same wonder, and we want to share our thoughts and feelings with someone. The one who made it all—and who reaches out in love to us—walks beside us, sharing our delight in His creation and His love as we respond to Him. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches that our chief end is to love God and to enjoy Him forever. We enjoy Him as we lift our voices and spirits in praise and thanksgiving for all His works and benefits and His love in providing our salvation. As we cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving, we look for God’s continuing grace, which may appear in unexpected ways.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement