Choosing to give thanks to God is like choosing to turn on a light in a dark room. It dispels the darkness and allows us to see things that we couldn't see before we turned on the light.
Sometimes we may feel like we don't need to turn on the light. We don't want that bright light shining in our eyes. We know where things are. We're OK walking around in the dark. And we may be able to get away with it sometimes.
But in my house, moving around in the dark can be tricky. We have a crazy dog with an uncanny ability to place himself exactly where we plan to put our feet. So, if I choose not to turn on the light, I have to move slowly, cautiously...hoping that everything is still where it was the last time I saw it, but wondering if I'm about to hear my dog yelp in pain or find myself tripping head over heels.
When I turn on the light, I see how things really are. I can move freely and without fear through my house. It is good to turn on the light in a dark room.
In the same way, the psalmist tells us, "It is good to give thanks to the LORD" (Psalm 92:1). Giving thanks to God is good for us. It dispels darkness, fear, anxiety and confusion.
Making the choice to give thanks changes what we see and how we see. Giving thanks to God shines the light of Christ into the darkness of our lives and our circumstances. The light of Christ exposes the lies of the enemy that we keep tripping over. It shatters the illusion that we are all alone. It reveals the truth and beauty of God's love and faithfulness to us, even in the midst of pain and difficulty.
Choosing to give thanks is also how we learn to "open the eyes of our hearts" and "see" the invisible Source and Giver of all good gifts. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17). Giving thanks to God helps us to move freely and without fear through our lives, filled with an ever-deepening awareness of our Father's loving care for us.
Sometimes we may not feel like giving thanks to God. We're free to make that choice. And we may be able to get away with it sometimes.
But when we choose not to give thanks to God, we lose sight of His love, presence and power in our lives very quickly. God is as faithful and gracious as ever, but the darkness of our ingratitude hides His goodness from us. God never leaves us or forsakes us, but the thankless heart feels isolated from God; abandoned and alone.
That's why the scriptures exhort us to give thanks to God not just when we happen to "feel" thankful, but in all the circumstances of our lives. The origin of thankfulness is not in the feelings, but in the will. We become thankful people by repeatedly, consistently choosing to "turn on the light;" to give thanks. "Rejoice always," Paul writes, " pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The desire of God's heart is for each of us to cultivate the habit of thankfulness, because no matter how we may happen to feel on any particular day, the thankful heart rests secure in the light and truth of God's love for us in Christ Jesus.
On those days when we don't feel thankful, we have a choice to make. We can keep trying to stumble around in the dark, or we can turn on the light.