“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights . . .” (James 1:17).
GOD IS THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD GIFT, AND LEARNING TO SEE THE GOODNESS OF HIS GIFTS AND GIVE PROPER THANKS FOR THEM IS ONE OF OUR GREATEST NEEDS IN LIFE. God blesses us in many different ways, and some of these are more direct and obvious than others. It is at the times when God’s gifts come to us indirectly (through other people, for example) and in ambiguous ways (they may seem more like difficulties than blessings) that the appropriateness of giving thanks may be hard for us to grasp.
Without a doubt, we ought to give thanks to all the other human beings around us who do so many wonderful things for us. In our interdependent world, we all have to have the help of others, and we need to be willing to acknowledge that help.
But the help that other people give us ultimately comes from God, and we need to be even more thankful to Him than we are to them. In very many cases, God acts in our lives by the instrumentality of other people’s doings, and so while we shouldn’t fail to thank the “instruments,” it is God who should be given the greater thanks. Let me share with you two compliments that came to me by email a few years ago only two weeks apart, both of which touched me deeply. One person wrote, “You have helped me to grow spiritually more than anyone else I’ve ever read.” The other person wrote, “You are perhaps the one person that the Lord has used the most to bring me closer to Him.” Both of these thanks were greatly appreciated by me. But the latter, bless that person’s soul, put the emphasis where it certainly needs to be — on God.
In truth, there is nothing for which we can’t give this “greater thanks.” Everything God allows us to experience is, if not enjoyable, at least useful (James 1:2), and we should learn to thank Him for all that happens. Joseph, for example, was thankful that his brothers had sold him into Egyptian slavery (Genesis 45:5–8). Such “useful” things are obviously harder to attribute to God and to give Him thanks for. But Paul said, “In everything, give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and I believe he meant just what he said.
“Take everything that comes into your life as being from the hand of God, not from the hand of man” (Jeanne Marie de la Mothe Guyon).