By Dr Henry Shepherd
“Thank You” is probably the most used expression of the contemporary world. People not knowing English have been using it comfortably.
Children are taught etiquettes from their childhood, at home and in schools they learn to say- “Thank you” on receiving a favour. Therefore thanklessness, may it be intentional (pride, pretence, guilt etc.) or otherwise (ill- manner, ecstasy, shyness. Etc.), is noticed with scorn. A thankful response gladdens the recipient, but the clueless silence of beneficiary displeases the benefactor.
Above all, the scriptures make it explicit that God expects the man to be grateful to him, for the mercies he renders. Our thanking God is nicknamed- “A sacrifice of Thanksgiving”.
The Bible says- “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfil your vows to the Most High and call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honour Me”. The one who sacrifices thank shows him the salvation of God; therefore thankfulness is a divine activity of enlightened soul. A forgiven person offers genuine gratitude to God out of love.
The expression- “Thank you”, is often misused for the purpose of flattery by humans who seek unmerited favours from their bosses. Some casually utter the words- Thank you; others fold hands and bow before benefactors, yet a few fall prostrate either to express emphatically or to make it a more effective. Anyhow a genuinely thankful person impresses, but habitual utterance goes waste. It is good to be grateful to sovereign God every day and tell him, “Thank you for your kindness”, and rejoice in his faithfulness.
Not only that but we should be thankful to God has appointed authorities. The Bible teaches: Everyone must submit himself to authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established consequently he who rebels against the government is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. The best way to honour authorities is to obey them and offer a prayer for them, for it pleases God.
Some offer thanksgiving to God in the morning and or in evening but many families have adopted the customary bedtime prayer schedule to thank Him for providing daily needs. Churches are usually opened once a week on Sundays for United thanksgiving by the community. Jewish people pray three times a day, whereas Muslims offer prayer five times a day. The sincerity of heart is more important than the length of the words and number of times one thanks to God.
King David, a man after God’s heart, advocates ceaseless prayer; and so does St. Paul “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. It might appear a tall order but not too grateful heart.
The one who trusts and loves God need not be anxious about anything. Panic is the outcome of mistrust and a handy tool of the adversary to dampen our faith. But the one who thanks in adverse condition is a man of faith. The story of a lame prince illustrates how adversities may also prove to be as a favour of God. The heir of a righteous king lost his one leg in an encounter with the beast, so everyone was sad for this mishap and blamed their fate. The prince was handsome, brave and very talented person. He then started using an artificial limb that seemingly covered the defect. One day during the hunting season prince lost his way in the jungle and got caught by tribal people. Being the first catch, he was taken to be offered as a sacrifice to their god. But the Chief priest notices him limping, and on investigation they found out the reason, so he was declared unfit for the purpose. Hence, they released him. The prince reached home safely and on hearing his story the king and his subjects thanked God for his life. The wanton disgrace became a blessing in disguise for the prince. St. Paul says- ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him’.
All things visible to human eyes are virtual, but things intangible, considered virtual, are real ones. Most people are thankful for tangible things that appear desirable, yet a few proud persons are ungrateful to man and God, for they attribute them to their destiny. They fret for bad luck but never thank God for the blessings. Once ten roadside lepers begged Jesus,”Master have pity on us”. He granted their mercy petition, but only one of them returned to thank Jesus for healing him. So he enquired,”Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Even today situation has not changed people pray for healing but on getting healed they forget to thank God. Once a work is done beneficiaries forget to express gratitude to the benefactor. Students take credit for success by saying, “I have passed”, but for failure they accuse others. Whereas accusing and grumbling both have been forbidden for man.
In general, Humans fall into three categories: a majority of them return good for good and evil for evil; Saints return good even for evil and wicked repay evil for good. Jesus came to save man from damnation but thankless people crucified him for all the good he did.
The value of thanksgiving is diminishing with time. People in every age are becoming more and more thankless in their attitude. They are self-absorbed, self-centered and boastful. Thankfulness is a virtue that changes attitude, then one can think positive about half a glass of water, but thankless persons see the same glass- half empty. Some wait until they find a reason to thank, but the grateful souls always find reasons to even in adverse conditions.
There was a priest who always started his discourses thanking God for something or the other. One day due to bad weather he reached the temple late and all drenched. The congregation did not expect him to start in the usual manner, but he opened the discourse with thanksgiving, saying; “I thank God that this does not happen to me daily”. The one who turns his back to the sun is led by his dark shadow. Therefore always find a reason to thank God for His goodness, kindness, faithfulness, selfless love and for good health, food, success, wisdom and above all His amazing grace. The scriptures teach man- “Thank God for everything who qualifies you to share the inheritance with saints”. Be thankful and experience blessedness.
Dr Henry Shepherd is former Pro Vice Chancellor Sam Higginbottom Institute of Ag Engg & Tech