Does anyone else feel a little anxious when they receive a really nice gift?
No? Just me? Okay.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to get a gift that I know I’m going to enjoy, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering how I’m going to match this when their birthday comes around. Or how the gift I gave them for Christmas measures up. Or even if my “OMG I love it so much!!!!” message will adequately express how much the present means to me.
I mean, how do I say thank you? How can I ever say thank you enough or in the right way?
In Joshua 4, Joshua and the Israelites walk us through how to say “thank you” to most extravagant gift Giver in the world – our heavenly Father.
The Israelites have entered the Promised Land. God has finally placed His children’s feet on the land He promised their ancestors years ago, back in Genesis. And what an entrance! After God parted the river Jordan just like He parted the Red Sea, a big THANK YOU is in order.
But how do they go about it? How do we go about saying thank you when God does something amazing for us?
How to say thank you
Real gratitude is more than a quick grin or an exclamation-point filled text message. It’s even more than a hug or a thank you phone call. Real gratitude changes how you see the person. It changes how you treat that person.
And you can feel true gratitude radiating from the Israelites with each stone they dig out of the Jordan river (verse 8). The finished product may not have seemed like much. Twelve stones stacked to form a humble monument marking this day.
But it was so much more than that.
The monument, however primitive, however big or however small, was a statement: God did this. God worked a miracle here. The Israelites were praising God for all the world to see, giving Him credit where credit was overdue.
Grateful people do that. They acknowledge the giver. They praise the giver.
But the Israelites took it several steps further past your regular gift exchange gratitude.
What God did for the Israelites at the Jordan shifted their perspective and their behavior.
Verse 14 says that on “that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.”
Who knows how the Israelites had been feeling about their new leader? Maybe they were doubting him. Maybe they were worried they wouldn’t reach the Promised Land at all. Maybe after spending the past forty years walking in circles, they wondered if God was still leading them.
With this gift God reminded the Israelites that He was in charge and that He had designated, blessed, and prepared Joshua to lead them just like He did Moses. God’s people gained a newfound respect for Joshua, but they also reaffirmed their faith in their ultimate Leader.
And we know this because the Israelites didn’t stay silent about the amazing thing God had done for them. They didn’t just create a monument, they created an oral tradition (verses 21-24).
Because what do you do when someone gives you a wonderful gift? You tell somebody. And then you tell somebody else. The better the gift, the more people you tell.
That’s what the Israelites did.
They promised to tell the fantastic tale of their God, His love, His mind-blowing miracles, His endless power, and His unbroken promises to their children and their children and anyone else who would listen.
And it was because they were grateful.
Real gratitude toward God is more than a prayer every now and then. It’s more than watching church on the couch or reading a Bible verse or two.
Real gratitude energizes us to praise God.
Real gratitude takes root and changes how we relate to God.
Real gratitude excites us, so we tell someone about it.
And the best part? It’s never too late to show God just how truly grateful we are.
“I want you to have the greatest gift any person can have.”
How do we say thank you?
How can we ever say thank you enough to the God who does something amazing for us every single day?
Not only are we alive and breathing.
Not only do we have friends and family.
Not only do we have food to eat, water to drink, a job, a car, a roof over our heads, or any other temporal thing you can think of that God gave you.
But on top of all those things, and more importantly than all those things, God has given us the gift of joy. He’s given us the gift of Himself. He’s given us the gift of salvation.
He’s given us eternal life.
Are we grateful? Truly grateful? Because true gratitude for these things comes when we accept them.
When we accept Jesus as our God, our Friend, and our Father, then it’ll change us. It’ll change the way we see God. It’ll change the way we talk to Him. It’ll change the way we obey God.
And it’ll cause us to tell everyone we can that God did something amazing in our life.
What do you think? Are you truly grateful for the amazing things God has done for you?