How Gratitude Can Be Our Guide and Our Defense
by Dale Anderson
Quite frankly, gratitude is everything! Access to the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus, is through the guide of gratitude (Psalm 100:4
). I am convinced that gratitude is an escort to the Father and a weapon against our foes.
Psalm 100 is being refreshed in my heart right now as I ponder the coming year-end holiday celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving [gratitude], and into His courts with praise [voicing thanks]. Be thankful [overflow with gratitude] to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:4–5)
Gratitude Guides Us into God’s Presence
Throughout my life, I have found gratitude escorts me into the presence of God. You would be amazed at what a little thankfulness with God will do. Try this—I mean right now, stop what you’re doing and do this:
- Call to mind a time where God did something for you—no matter how small, call it to your mind.
- Ask the Lord to help you feel what you felt the day He did what He did.
- Thank Him. Just say, “Jesus, I remember the day You . . . (name it; name what He did)! Thank you! Thank you, Lord!”
- Take it slow. Don’t rush through. Just sit there and bask in the sense of refreshing and God’s presence now opened to you.
You see, gratitude is an escort into the presence of God. Right now, if you did what I encouraged you to do, you are likely feeling something powerful on your soul. Your brain is literally releasing endorphins (dopamine), and you are attaching that memory to the sense of God’s goodness in your life. This will impact your confidence in God and your expressed love for Him.
Showing gratitude reminds us of God’s character and nature. When Father God does something for us, that action becomes a window into His character. We know God is a deliverer because He delivers. We know God is a healer because He heals. We know God is a provider because He provides. We know God is alive because He is active in our lives. And gratitude can lead us into His presence quicker than anything I know.
As we enter into the Father’s presence, we see the benefits of being with Him. Psalm 100 verse 5 tells us that “the Lord is good
; His mercy
is everlasting, and His truth
endures to all generations” (emphasis added). First, we touch His goodness. There are not many right now who have any connection or sense that God is a good
person. Right now there is so much hate in the world that our hearts easily get hardened by what we see and hear. Another senseless shooting, another horrible murder, another broken marriage or abused child—it’s all madness. Even Jesus said Himself, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18 ESV
). Gratitude can help us touch the goodness of God.
Gratitude also helps us touch the heart of a merciful Father. I find that our society is so triggered by injustice yet deeply disconnected from the mercy
of God, so much so that we are in a very dangerous place. If we are not careful, we are about to enter an era of “vigilante Christian justice.” If we are not careful, we are about to lose sight of the cross, Jesus’ greatest statement of mercy to mankind (Ephesians 2:14–18
). According to the apostle Paul, both victim and perpetrator must find mercy at the cross of Christ. Both must find reconciliation at the cross with God; and then by some miracle, and only then, can they possibly find peace with one another. And it all starts with mercy. Victims find solace and comfort in the mercy offered them at the cross as they consider how best to make peace in their grief. Perpetrators find the mercy of God empowers them to face the consequences of their actions as God’s loving discipline reconciles their behavior. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13.)
Gratitude opens up the voice of God as His truth enters our spirit. When we touch God through gratitude, His truth fills our heart, washing and empowering our soul. So many today are confused and clouded by the unending volume of voices and the loudness of the culture. Each competing voice seems right until God breaks in with His truth and clears the smog influencing our minds. If we are not walking according to God’s truth, then under whose influence are we living? The truth we live by empowers our authority (for good or bad) and influences our behavior and the orientation from which we live.
Gratitude Is a Defense against Our Enemy
Another thing gratitude does is to act like a defense in our mouth against the enemy. When lies seek to steal our peace, move us out from the presence of our Father, rob us of the nature of our Dad, and kill the work of His mercy in our life, we need to fight back. And we fight back best using the weapon of gratitude.
We need to remind ourselves and the enemy of the goodness of God through the exhaustive list of all God’s done for us. Paul the apostle describes a mysterious work done by the church in Ephesians 3:8–10
: As the believers of a local congregation gather and fellowship around the mystery of Christ (vs. 9), it releases the proclamation of the mystery of Christ (vs. 8), and most of all, releases the prayers of the saints who speak out the truth in gratitude of what God has done (vs. 10). This thwarts the work of principalities and powers aligned against them. What a powerful truth! The weapon of gratitude (remembering what God has done and who He is) destroys the attacks of the enemy, who would seek to steal, kill, and destroy God’s work in our lives.
My friends, I leave this task with you as we enter this holiday season. Let’s take some time to tell one another the stories, the moments of God’s goodness in our lives. Let us use gratitude to connect with God at this very moment and fight off the enemy of our souls, which seeks to kill the truth of God’s mercy in our lives. Amen!
How can gratitude help you meet God this holiday season?
It’s easier to be thankful when there’s peace in the home. Just in time for the holidays, John Chisholm’s message Blessed Are the Peacemakers can serve as a great resource for how to make peace in relationships through critical conversations. Watch it here >>
Dale Anderson has been a teacher for over thirty years, serving as a public school teacher (BEd, University of Calgary) and a Bible teacher. He was a missionary in Gliwice, Poland, from 1992 to 1999, where he taught English and established a church focused on prayer and intimacy with Jesus. Dale is the author of Mercy Wins: Learning Mercy in a Merciless Age and has a passion to see the global Church established in night-and-day prayer with fasting. Dale and his wife, Cheryl, have two children, Jordan (married to Victoria), and Bethany.