The Attitude of Gratitude
from Virtuous Daughters, November 2011~Volume 11, Number 8
Thanks to God!
(by August Ludwig Storm, translated by Carl E. Backstrom)
Thanks to God for my Redeemer, Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a mem’ry, Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, cheerful springtime, Thanks for summer, winter, fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten, Thanks for peace within my soul!
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered, Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure, Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure, Thanks for love beyond compare!
Thanks for roses by the wayside, Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for homes and thanks for fireside, Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, Thanks for heavenly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope for the tomorrow, Thanks through all eternity!
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.”
—1 Chronicles 16:34
“By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”—Hebrews 13:15
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:18
I do so love this hymn—especially because it emphasizes being thankful, not only for the many good things God gives to us, but for the rest, too. Gratefulness is something that many people forget about showing. It is so simple to say the words, to write a note, to give a quick hug, or a big smile . . . All of these are simple gestures that can convey your appreciation for someone else and what they’ve done for you.
There was a time in my life when I needed this song to remind me about being grateful for the little things in my life, things I took for granted. I made a copy of it and put photos next to the words. I hung it up in my kitchen by my sink, where I often stood. And yes, it helped me numerous times. I think gratefulness is a habit, something we may need to learn to do and practice often . . .
I’d like to look at this hymn and examine a few of the things we are to be thankful for. Would you join me and perhaps find some areas where you, too, need to see the blessings all around you?
The author of this hymn, August L. Storm, was born in 1862, in Sweden. As a young man, he became converted through the Salvation Army and later became one of its leading officers. He wrote the text for this hymn in 1891 for the Army publication. In 1910, J.A. Hultman included the text with his own tune in another publication, and that is when the hymn became popular in Sweden and in America. Amazingly enough, Mr. Storm suffered a back ailment and that left him crippled for life. To be able to write these words amidst such pain, shows the depth of his gratefulness to his Lord and Savior.
I love the lasting power of the hymns—the meaning of the words that mirror scripture so often. When I hear people complain of their slowness, or how old and boring they are, I wonder if they really take the time to “hear” the words and what they are saying.
In the first stanza, we are reminded to thank God for all He has given us. It reminds us to be thankful for the past—for our treasured memories that cannot be taken away from us. They are ours to hold onto and look back on and enjoy, over and over again, especially during dark and dreary, lonely times. We should be grateful that Jesus is by our side, ever our Friend, if we are saved by His precious blood.
Another part of this stanza begs us to be grateful for the seasons God created—each one unique and special. Living in upstate New York as I do, I have learned to appreciate each season for what it brings. Fall: the crisp apples, the colorful leaves, the sound of fallen leaves crunching underfoot and its distinctive scent, the brilliant blue sky or the stormy dark clouds, time to get jackets out again. Winter: precious, each-one-unique snowflakes, snowmen and snow angels, sledding and hot chocolate, ice-skating, rosy red cheeks on little faces, breath that you can see, icicles hanging from everywhere, reading by a cozy fire. Spring: so anxious to see that first crocus peeking out, the buds on the maple tree, fresh maple syrup, the scent of fresh earth, spotting the first robin, the sounds of birds chirping, the warmth of the sun, able to be outside once more. Summer: hot, sultry days, no school, camping in the woods or by the lake, singing hymns by the camp fire, bike rides, picnics, fans spinning in every room. Each season has a reason to be thankful for, indeed. And it is all around us, every day of the year.
In the second stanza, what strikes me most is the idea that we should thank the Lord for prayers answered and prayers denied. How many of us really do that? Truly believing that God hears our prayers, says no to us, and actually knows what is best for us—even if it is not our desire, takes an element of trust and faith that many of us lack, especially me, at times. Being grateful for those stormy times in our past seems like a hard one for me, yet when I do look back, I see His infinite wisdom in teaching me some hard lessons especially in trust. In pain and pleasure, we must show thanks, and this is so difficult. Yet He is called the Comforter . . . John 14:16 says “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;” His grace and love is something we all need to be thankful for . . . It is never ending and His mercy should be an example for us all.
In the last stanza, the author reminds us that our roses often contain thorns that we don’t realize . . . Be careful when you pray to say, as Christ in the garden did, “Thy will be done.” And accept, with gratitude, even the hard lessons He will teach you along the way. It continues as we must learn to be appreciative of our homes and firesides—to know that people are what make up your “home,” and what really matter in the long run.
It continues with a reminder of being grateful for joy and sorrow, and for that heavenly peace that can help you through either emotion you may be feeling right then. The peace and hope of only resting in Jesus is certainly something to be praising Him for, also. And hope...it’s what keeps us going, time after time. Sweet hope that can never be taken away as long as we believe in our Savior and eternal life with Him someday.
Ultimately, we all make choices. We can choose to see the glass half empty or half full. Every day, each and every day, the Lord blesses us with hundreds of gifts, if we will only open our eyes and really see them—they are all around us. Try this, for one hour, or one day, look and really see the multitude of gifts God presents to you, as His child. The song of a bird, the brightness of the sky, a spectacular sunrise or sunset, the sweet smile of a child, a hug from a friend, someone taking the time to send you a note in the mail . . . each of these is a gift . . . a reason to be thankful. You are blessed to be here, in this present reality. Take advantage of it and share your gratefulness with someone. Let them know about the One Who is fully in charge and Who loves you with an everlasting love.
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