Dear Friend of Israel,
How do you tell God thank you? Do you do so privately during your quiet time with Him? Or maybe you write it down in your journal? Maybe it’s just a fleeting thought, a whispered thanks, as you arrive safely home from a long journey, or as you witness the beauty of the setting sun.
The writer of Psalm 95 encourages us to tell God thanks in quite a different way. He invites us to “sing for joy,” to “shout aloud,” to come before God with thanksgiving on our lips, and to worship him with music and song. According to the psalm writer, our hearts should be so brimming with gratitude to God for all that He has done that we can’t help but bubble over with joy and shout out our thanks.
Is that how we tell God thanks?
English writer and author Gladys Bronwyn Stern once wrote that silent gratitude is of use to no one. And inspirational writer William Arthur Ward put it this way, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Expressing our thankfulness is meant to be shared with others, aloud. We need to tell the object of our gratitude what we’re feeling, not just think about it. Not only is the recipient of gratitude blessed when we say “thank you,” but we also are lifted up when we see the effects our words have on others and when we focus on the good things in our lives.
When we consider giving thanks as a gift to be given, as words to be shouted, as a song to sing in joy, it helps us to cultivate that attitude in our hearts. It is more than just an automatic response; giving thanks becomes a lifestyle that can inspire and encourage others. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a great Jewish theologian, once said that gratitude is the only response that can sustain us through life’s ups and downs. He summed up the necessity for giving thanks to God in this way: “It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.”
The next time we gather for dinner with our family and friends, let’s shout out our gratitude for the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. Let’s sing with joy for all He has done to protect us and secure us. But let’s also leave the table with a desire to cultivate gratefulness in our hearts not just today, but every day, so that our souls might be great and that we will be a blessing to others.
Thank you for your faithfulness and support for Israel and her people.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Chairman, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Australia