revjoaquinwillisweb.gifHave you ever asked yourself “Why it is so hard for many people to say “Thank you”? I do, as I think to myself, “Maybe they haven’t been taught or haven’t been shown by example how to be thankful.” For some it’s a matter of attitude; they just believe that everything they receive they are entitled to. Then there are those who say “Thank you” only when they receive big things, like winning the lottery; it’s then they scream, “Thank you, Lord!”

A good lesson on thankfulness is found in the wilderness, in Numbers 11:4-6. The Israelites were ungrateful for the manna God provided and they complained against it and God was not pleased. Dissatisfaction comes when our attention shifts from what we have to what we don’t have. Had the Israelites developed an attitude of thankfulness, they would have focused upon what God was doing for them at the moment, which was setting them free.

These two little words, “Thank you,” have great power. In Daniel 2:19-23, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that troubles him. He tests the magicians and enchanters, seeking them to first tell him his dream then its interpretation and they are told if they cannot they will be put to death. They can’t and the king kills them all. Daniel, too, is sought out but, hearing about the incident, he first prays and gives thanks to God for wisdom and power. In a dream, God reveals to Daniel the king’s dream and its meaning. But even before Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar the dream and its meaning, Daniel thanks God.

When we take time to say, “Thank you,” and show gratitude to God before He even blesses us, it gives our thankfulness even greater meaning.

Another instance of the power of “Thank you” is found in Luke 17:16 10 which tells  of 10 lepers being healed by Jesus and only one coming back, to say, “Thank you.” That prompts Jesus to ask where the other nine were. Christ goes on to say to the former leper, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well,” implying that the healing he received had something the others did not. I believe the others were merely healed  but this one was also cleansed on the inside by simply saying, “Thank you.”

Paul tells the Thessalonians, in I Thessalonians 5:16-18,  “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Our joy, prayers and thankfulness should not fluctuate with our circumstance or feelings.  When we do God’s will, we find it easier to be joyful, pray and be thankful. When we first obey and apply these three principles, we begin to see people in a new perspective and they see us in a new and better light.

Paul is not saying we should thank God for everything that happens to us but, rather, in everything we should be thankful. Even when evil strikes, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good He will bring out of our distress.

Paul tells the Romans, in Romans 8:28, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

I love the Thanksgiving season. Though it is not a religious holiday, its focus is upon giving thanks and sharing with families, friends and others. This is a great time to try saying, “Thank you,” more. So, if you haven’t done so, it’s a good time to add a little thankfulness to your life and, perhaps, experience an even happier Thanksgiving.

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami’s Liberty City community.  He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or

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