Pastoral Perspectives

A Grateful, Thankful Heart!

Grumbling (i.e. complaining or protesting) was something that the Israelites did in the wilderness (see Numbers 14:2). God was very angry with them and almost destroyed them if not for the serious intercession of Moses for the people. Grumblings before God and His chosen leaders reflect the lack of trust and faith in God and His leaders (see Numbers 14:11-12). God detests grumblings in the hearts of His people. The Apostle Paul instructed the Philippian believers to “do all things without grumbling.” (see Philippians 2:14). His purpose was that they “may be blameless and innocent” as children of God. The right attitude for God’s people to cultivate is: “Be grateful and be thankful.” Instead of grumbling, let us develop a grateful, thankful heart.

There is a slight difference between “grateful” and “thankful”. Extracted from, “By definition, grateful is feeling or showing appreciation for something done or received. The definition of thankful is feeling pleased and relieved. So, both grateful and thankful are positive feelings and both grateful and thankful are triggered by some event. But the difference between grateful vs thankful is that by definition grateful is directed outwards the person who is feeling it while thankful is generated inside the person.”

We are forever grateful to God who redeems us from sin’s wretchedness and sin’s punishment. At the same time, we are thankful to God for giving us a living hope in His beloved Son Jesus and through Him, receiving eternal life. This reminds me of a familiar song: “Give thanks with a grateful heart.” In this song, we give thanks to God because He has given us Jesus Christ, His Son. It is because of what the Lord has done for us that we are strengthened and enriched.

Through teaching the ACTS format of prayer at the Learning-to-Pray session, I am reminded of the letter “T” which stands for “Thanksgivings.” I explain that in the “Thanksgivings” portion of our prayer, we are telling God how grateful we are for everything He has given to us – even for the unpleasant things in our lives. Through “giving thanks to God”, our attitude towards what is happening in and around us would be changed. Our perspective of the event surrounding us would take on a unique and rightful one. This will enable us to acknowledge that God’s Will is good, pleasing and perfect (see Romans 12:1).

When we start focusing on God, focusing on His faithfulness and goodness, we will gradually become more grateful and thankful in our heart towards Him. When we start recalling how God has provided for our daily needs and how He has delivered us from many tough and unpleasant situations, whether in your workplace or your home, we will definitely offer to God our thanks to Him with a grateful heart.

I know that it is not easy to develop a grateful, thankful heart. I would think that we can be grateful only when we are thankful. During the Circuit Breaker period which is just over on the 1st of June, did we have a grateful, thankful heart? Or did we have a grumbling, unappreciative heart? In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, did we put our trust and faith in God, knowing with confidence that God will see us or bring us through this crisis, whether economically, politically or socially? Did we give thanks to God who is Sovereign, who is in control and knows what He is doing? Or did we grumble and murmur in our hearts against God?

As for me, during these past two months, the Lord has taught me many things. I am grateful to God for all those things which He has taught me. I am grateful to God for enabling me to have my Bible Reading Plan re-started. By the grace of God, I completed at least four New Testament books. I am also grateful to God for enabling me to have more time in “Listening to the Lord” and more “Prayer Closet” moments. One word kept popping up to me is: “Change.” There are many areas in my life which requires “change”. I am assured and encouraged that my God is changing me. With God’s guidance and help, changes would gradually take place. One of the changes I started having is: “Listening to the Lord.” I have learnt to be quiet before the Lord so as to listen to what He is speaking to me. I have tried not to anyhow share/send text messages to people because people might not like them without informing me. This is one of the changes which I have tried to do recently. Speak where necessary! Share when necessary! Always cultivate a prayerful spirit. It requires a lot of discipline in terms of maintaining a certain posture. God is doing His changing work in me! I am grateful to God for His people who are praying for me and encouraging me.

I pray that I will always have a grateful, thankful heart, rejoicing in what God is doing in my life and my prayer for you is that you too will develop such a heart: a grateful, thankful heart, bringing glory to God!

Preacher George Ang

June 7, 2020