“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever!” 2 Chronicles 20:21
As Judah readied to defend itself against three armies in 2 Chronicles 20:21, Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, appointed “those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire” to march into battle ahead of the army saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.”
The army of Judah is going out to fight a battle that, for every logical reason, they should lose. But instead of putting their strongest warriors at the forefront, the King decrees that the first thing their enemy will see of Judah is a choir, worshipping and thanking God.
It’s no accident. We read the command to give thanks to God more than 67 times in the whole Bible. Why are we admonished to “give thanks” more than anything else? Why not, “bow down and worship” or “cry out continuously”?
God wanted the people of Judah to grow in their faith. He knows that when we give thanks for His steadfast love, for his goodness, for His marvelous acts of grace towards us, something happens; we change and all of the other aspects we associated with worship follow naturally.
It’s not that God hears the magic words of our thankfulness and then starts acting on our behalf, as if gratitude is the secret to a life of getting what we want. It’s not.
As we thank God for who He is and how He responds to us, our hearts move from a posture of “I need” or “I am lacking” to a position of recognizing, “Look who I have, look what he’s done for me. As we give thanks, we are emboldened by God’s provision and remember why we are able to trust Him. We recount the history of His goodness towards us, and become courageous to trust Him with our future.
Of course, thanksgiving doesn’t need to lead the charge exclusively for big battles, spiritual or otherwise. When you find out that lunch is your favorite meal, give thanks! When you get to enjoy a quiet morning on the Dining Hall Porch with a good friend, give thanks. When you get an unexpected letter in the mail and relish every word, give thanks.
Our gratitude increases our capacity to see God for who He is. The result of us thanking this steadfastly loving, good, and merciful God is renewed faith and worship.