Have you ever thought about that...is it an emotion? Is it a characteristic, or a state of being? Is it simply a courtesy?
Yet, thanksgiving is something that all good parents teach. Usually tied to gift giving or interacting with a waitress or waiter at a restaurant, we are adamant that our children always use “please” and “thank you”. It is just something that you do!
Matter of fact, I will argue that please and thank you are status symbols of good parents. Many will gauge just how good of a job you are doing as a parent by how comfortable your children are in responding with this courtesy after a gift or service.
This kind of thanksgiving—the thanksgiving of the Bible—is what I want to bring attention to. It is much deeper than what most people think of thanksgiving. This is the kind of thanksgiving that Paul describes in Phillipians 4 as a guard against anxiety.
I genuinely believe that mastering and cultivating thanksgiving as it is taught in the Bible will transform your life and the life of those around you.
Thanksgiving in the Bible is best described as a posture. It is a physical posture but deeper. It is a posture of the heart and mind. It is the way a person approaches any situation, event, or circumstance.
You will find this in the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. In Daniel 6, Daniel is described as having an “excellent spirit”. The king must have noticed this because he was about to promote Daniel over the other satraps to make him second in command. Daniel was a favorite, and the other satraps of the king tricked Darius into creating a decree that anyone that bowed to any other God would be put to death.
The Bible says that when Daniel knew that the “injunction” had been ordered, he went up to his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” He did not change his ritual even though by praying and thanking God as he had always done, he was risking execution.
Daniel came to the circumstance already with the mental “posture” of thanksgiving built up over time. He continued doing what he had always done.
Additionally, the description for prayer and thanks in these verses actually describes a ritual posture. Daniel literally got down on his knees and took his hands and threw them out in front of him like he is casting something away. So, what this is saying is that he went to his upper room, knelt down in front of a window opened toward Jerusalem and physically performed a motion of bending his arms and stretching his hands out. The physical motion revealed what he was mentally doing.
The original language here means to praise, thank, cast away, and understand your position. In English, our words can only mean one thing at a time, like a cast on your arm or to cast a lure into the water. But, in Hebrew, a word can have all of these layers of meaning at once.
Daniel approached the injustice of the advisors the same way he approached everything—in a mental posture of thanksgiving and casting his concerns upon his Lord. Thanksgiving was the way of dealing with or considering everything for Daniel. It was his Posture.
And, how did he develop this posture? He consistently went before his Lord in prayer and thanksgiving three times per day.
The “excellent spirit” in Daniel was evidenced by his posture of thanksgiving.