Give Thanks with a GRATEFUL Heart

For the last few days I have been contemplating the theme on everyone's mind as we approach Thanksgiving Day. No, not turkey (although I have contemplated that quite a bit as well!) I'm talking about the theme of giving thanks.

I've wanted to join in the blogging 'carnivals' where everyone links up and shares their thankful thoughts, but my heart could not write.  Don't get me heart is thankful for so many things
  • My family
  • A place to live
  • A meal on the table
  • etc...
But because I write from my heart and not my head, I was struggling to get words out.  My head had the list, but my heart was seeking something more.  What did God want me to know about being thankful? 

As I read various blogs touting the Thankful theme, there was one word that popped up on Scribbit's blog for a writing contest that intrigued me.  The word used was Grateful and I decided I liked it better than thankful...GRATEFUL.  Being one who loves to tear words apart and seek real meaning in them, I was drawn to my friend "Webster" to find out if there's even a difference between 'thankful' and 'grateful'.

I found that though the 2 words are siblings, there is a slight difference between them.  While 'thankful is being conscious of benefits received, 'grateful' is being appreciative of benefits received.  At least that's how Webster described the 2 in the first definition of each.  

And so, as I am inclined to do, I pondered and meditated on the different definitions of the 2, asking God to speak to me a word for this season and show me something new to stir up my soul and bring me closer to Him.

First thoughts were that I could see how I am conscious (aware) of what God has done in my life, but could I be more appreciative of what God has done in my life? 

I  found myself wandering back to Webster again. 

Conscious: perceiving or noticing with a degree of controlled thought thankful means to notice, with a degree of controlled thought, the benefits received.

Appreciative: showing appreciation (and appreciation is an expression of admiriation, approval, or gratitude)
And so...grateful means to show appreciation with an expression of admiration and gratitude for the benefits received.

And then my heart was stirred. 
God showed me that I have a thankful heart
but not always a grateful heart. 

And that's when the words of this song came over me. 

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks, because He's given Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The words of this song reminded me that God desires (and deserves!) to be thanked with a grateful heart.  And as the definition of grateful had been shown to me as an expression of appreciation, I began to ask God what that should look like.  How do I take my thankfulness from a controlled, inward thought to an outward expression of admiration and gratitude for the benefit I received from the blood of Christ? 

I was reminded of a dear friend who is going through an intense refining fire right now.  She is being asked to endure hardships that could easily cause her heart to give up on God.  As we sat chatting one afternoon, she shared that as she lay on the floor in tears one day, weaping and sobbing for God to resolve her situation,  He whispered to her heart "If I never do another thing for you, will you still love Me?"

Those words came to the top of my mind as I meditated on this theme of thankfulness and gratefulness.  This was why I was unable to make my 'list'.  God wanted to chat with me about being grateful for one thing and one thing only...the sacrifice of His Son so that I could have a real and intimate relationship with Him. 

And grateful was the key word, not thankful. 
(remember, the difference is that a grateful heart appreciates the benefit; it's not just mindful of it)

{wait...take that in for a second.  Read those words one more time; slowly. Even if your walk with God is miles and miles further down the road than mine...just stop and consider the idea of a heart that is grateful of the benefit of salvation vs a heart that is thankful of the benefit of salvation.}

We've all heard the expression "you learn to appreciate things when you don't have them anymore".  Or, as mom's like to say to our kids "you just don't appreciate how good you have it here".

That was what struck my heart today.  In a world where Christianity is accepted without persecution; where Christians are allowed to worship freely, without question; does my heart default to thankfulness when it should leap with gratefulness? 

Are my thoughts of thankfulness for Christ's sacrifice controlled within my heart when they should be outward expressions of admiration and gratitude? 

I am very expressive when I sing and speak, but in my day to day living, I am very reserved and quiet by nature. Today I was stirred to consider how I might take my expressions of appreciation to a new level. 

 My husband is a talker.  He can and will talk to anyone and everyone. (yes...opposites DO attract!)  One thing that I love about him is how he ends conversations (whether face to face or on the phone).  Almost every time he says "I appreciate you".  Not 'thanks for your help', not 'good talking to you', not 'talk to you later'...but "I appreciate you".  And he says it with sincerity that is felt by everyone who receives that heartfelt salutation of gratitude.  And what I have observed over the years is the difference that verbalized appreciation makes in the relationships he has built.  This is what expressed appreciation (a grateful heart) will do to my relationship with God. 

Because God desires an even more intimate relationship with me than what I have today...
I need to verbalize my appreciation for the sacrificial act of Christ more often.
I need to give voice to the appreciation I have for my salvation.

Does God know that I am grateful?  God knows my heart without a word spoken.  So why has He stirred my heart today with the realization that being grateful means to show appreciation with an expression of admiration and gratitude for the benefits received.  It's not for Him, it's for me!  I remember the season of my life when God moved me out of my comfort zone and I learned to lift my hands and praise Him with all the joy He had filled me with.  I remember how that act of obedience and sacrificial praise drew me closer to Him.  I know that as I begin to step out of my comfort zone and be more expressive of my appreciation for His sacrifice, sharing salvation more outwardly with others, beyond the walls of worship, my relationship will grow with even greater intimacy. 

And now, let the weak say I am strong,
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done, for us.

Give Thanks.
Give Thanks.
Give Thanks.

What grateful words do you have today?  Share what the benefit of salvation has meant to you with a quick comment and let God use that outward expression of appreciation to do a mighty work in you and in those He brings here to read what you have to say.  To His Glory...amen.

Other places I encourage you to visit for conversations of giving thanks are:
the Cafe Chat at the Internet Cafe and because I am thankful that the blood of Christ allowed me to give up on being PERFECT...hop over to see Mary's Giving up on a PERFECT Thanksgiving (check out the links for some really funny stories!)


  1. Thanks for sharing your feelings on this, it helps me to remember what I'm grateful for.

  2. Tami, I love that you looked into the differences between thankful and grateful! I'm a word girl, too, so this really strikes a chord with me. It's a valuable process to consider how often I move from thankful to grateful - and how often I don't.

    Thanks for linking up last week! Happy Thanksgiving!

    (And have I told you that I have the same dress you're wearing in your FB profile pic? I love it!)