The Power of a Thankful Heart

by Francine Prins
Editor of the Christian magazine LiG

“No woman has ever killed her husband while he was doing the dishes…”

Can you relate?

This joke would probably have hit home if you’ve ever had to do dishes, whether you’re married or not.

Those no-brainer, boring, endless tasks… if someone helped you with those chores you would surely do nothing to miss out on the benefit! And of course, assistance with chores like doing the dishes speaks of thoughtfulness and a servant heart. The proper response to this kind of deed would certainly be nothing but thankfulness.

With thankfulness in your heart it is impossible to become angry and stay angry.

Research has shown that thankfulness can be a buffer against feelings like jealousy, hatred and eventually violence. On the spectrum of emotions, thankfulness and contentment are on the opposite side of emotions like contempt and hatred.

To use the above-mentioned joke to illuminate God’s command to not murder (see Exodus 20:13), would probably be to slim down the meaning of this statute. But maybe we could just learn from this piece of jest.

Anger and resentment has this cunning way of darkening our hearts. Darkness makes evil thoughts grow like a climbing plant, creeping all over the place until it bears its awful fruits: words that murder.

Thankfulness, however, switches on the light in this darkness and outshines hatred and contempt. Thankfulness highlights those things in our lives or in people around us that deserve a “thank you”. It opens our eyes to the bright side of life, the good stuff.

When the light of thankfulness in which love, forgiveness and care are cultivated fills our heart, we are enabled to heed God’s commandments. Yes, the light of thankfulness dims the darkness, it kills the hatred.

From darkness to light doesn’t happen instantly – rather with the passing of time and diligent decisions to be thankful. It works like a candle receiving fire for a small little flame, and then, cautiously, giving it to the next candle. And in the process these pieces of thankfulness start to outshine those dark, wicked thoughts.

Until you experience: A thankful heart shall not murder.

How can we light that flame of thankfulness? We start small. We seek two or three things for which we can be thankful. We open our eyes to find glitters of grace engrained in our everyday life.

We find grace gleaming now and again, and we acknowledge it. Even if it gleams in a sea of darkness, we recognise it and say our small thank you.

And when we decide again to say thank you, we will ourselves to choose thankfulness. Then it starts to become a habit, a perpetual practice. And that gratitude, dear friend, opens our eyes to see more and more of the grace that abounds in our life – even if it’s hidden underneath the clutter and confusion of life.

We start to discover that thankfulness and grace are allies – gratitude and grace, like two sisters inextricably bound to each other. To know the one, is to know the other. To practice the one is to be familiar with the other.

And then we make this awesome discovery: All grace flows from God, the One Who deserves all our thanks. And in Him we have the strength to keep a thankful heart, always mindful of the grace He wraps around us.

Our eyes open to see the richness of God’s grace, the all-surrounding hugeness of His grace. The proper response to this kind of grace would certainly be nothing but deep gratitude and a thankful life. Not only will God receive our thanks, it will be impossible to keep our thank you’s from flowing to our neighbour.

Indeed, grace and gratitude gird our heart to obey God’s commandments.

Francine Prins is editor of the Christian magazine LiG, author of ‘100 dae van dankbaarheid’ and a member of Shofar Paarl.

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