Each time I travel, I can’t help but pick up a phrase or two from the cultures that I visit. My favorite would have to be two plain but incredibly powerful words: THANK YOU. In Mexico, they say, “Gracias.” Some in South Africa say, “Dankie.” In Israel and in Hebrew it’s, “Toda.” In Hawaii, “Mahalo,” and in Australia, simply put, “Ta.” But my favorite of all is how the British express their gratitude: “CHEERS!” I think the reason I like it so much is because it just sounds so happy!
Real-Bible, God-pleasing faith lets out a happy sound. If we really knew the gift that God has given us in the person of Jesus, we would start every morning and end every night with a smile on our faces and a big, “Thank You, Father.” When someone gives you a gift, as you reach out to take it, the appropriate response is always, “Thank you.”
I am convinced that there is nothing more pleasing to God than a thankful heart. You might argue, “Well, I thought that the scriptures say that without faith it is impossible to please God. Isn’t faith what pleases God the most?” My answer would be, YES! You’re exactly right, and that’s exactly what I just said. Let me explain.
When I was a little girl, we lived out in the country next to a peach orchard. One of my favorite things to do was go on walks along its winding paths while picking peaches off of the trees. The fruit that hangs on any tree is the proof of what is happening inside that tree. If you see apples on a tree, you know that the seed that is causing the apples to grow is an apple seed deep within the core of that tree. It’s the same with any kind of fruit. You can tell what is happening on the inside by what is showing up on the outside. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”
Years ago, when I was preparing to minister on some of these things, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Thanksgiving is the language of faith.” I see now that thanksgiving is the fruit, or the proof, that faith is working in the heart. If a thank You is on our lips, then we can be sure that faith is in our hearts.
A thankful person is an attractive person, a magnet to the presence of God. In fact, God instructs us in Psalm 100 to “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving does two things: it gives us access into His world, and it gives Him access into ours. I heard my pastor say that the Lord once asked him, “Do you want to know how to enlarge your capacity to receive from me? Cultivate a lifestyle of thanksgiving.”
Giving thanks makes us wide on the inside. As we give thanks, we open ourselves up to God; but when we murmur and complain, we limit His ability in our lives. Complaining is the vocabulary of the world, but thanksgiving is the language of people of faith.
I heard a true story not long ago about a professional athlete who found himself flat on his back in a hospital room, having been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. He was about to lose his career before it had even started. He began to cry out to God, and, much to his surprise, he heard God speak back to him. He said, “Be more thankful.” At first he didn’t understand how this could be the answer to his recovery and to his future success in life. But it was the answer. He obeyed and started thanking God in everything. Soon after, he began to recover. He’s alive today, setting new records in his sport and living out his dream.
I learned this firsthand after I had my second baby. I received a bad report from the doctor after taking a series of medications that wreaked havoc on my body. I saw a few different doctors and spent a ton of money seeing one of the best nutritionists in our area. I did everything in the natural that they told me to do—changed my eating habits and watched over every bite that I put in my mouth, and I took all the right supplements at the right times. I definitely started to improve, but for some reason, I still wasn’t 100 percent.
I found myself discouraged as the same symptoms that I kept thinking were finally gone kept showing up again. I felt like the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5:26: she had seen many physicians and “had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.” I heard the Lord speak to me on the inside with His still small voice, “Sarah, in order to have natural results, you have to do natural things, but if you want supernatural results, you have to do supernatural things.”
Even though I had sought the Lord throughout the healing process, I knew it was time to press in spiritually like never before. One night as I lay in bed, I cried out to Him to give me a practical way to receive my healing, and He was faithful to answer.
“Thanksgiving therapy,” He said. “I want you to come to Me three times a day and do nothing but meditate on My Word, remember My loving-kindness, and thank Me for the good things I’ve done for you.”
I knew it had to be God because only He could have come up with such a cool plan! After He spoke to my heart, I realized that therapy is simply a treatment for a disease or a remedy for a disorder. I looked into the meaning further, and I found that the Greek word therapia literally means healing.
In order to attend a therapy session and be cured, you have to make an appointment with a physician, and if the desire to be healed is strong enough, you will find time and make it an absolute priority. You will meet together in a quiet place where you can both talk and listen. And lastly, you must remain consistent with your therapy sessions in order for them to be effective. It is the one who is constant in believing, unwavering with the word, and fully persuaded of his promise that sees results in the end.
I began to set appointments with the Great Physician, where I would lie down and quiet my soul. I would close my eyes and remember specific moments in my past when God overwhelmed me with His love, and I began to thank Him for each one. I would recall stories from my childhood. When my mother was pregnant with me, her doctor told her she would miscarry me, and instead of accepting those words, she stood on God’s Word, and here I am today. I would also think about the time as a little girl that I had scarlet fever that affected my eyesight to the point that I had to get glasses. My parents and grandparents agreed together in prayer over me, and God healed me. Today I have perfect 20/20 vision.
Then there was the amazing moment that God spoke to Jeremy about me before we had ever even met, and He told Jeremy I was the girl he was supposed to marry. GOD LOVES ME, OH, HOW HE LOVES ME! HE REALLY REALLY LOVES ME! And He is no respecter of persons; He loves you just as much. But it is not just His love but our awareness of His love that makes all the difference in our lives. As I called to mind our history, I realized that each memory was a victory, and my thankful heart became alive with praise. His love flooded my soul, and I knew that fear was being forced out and healing was working in me.
Memories are extremely powerful. Scientists and doctors have discovered a concept they call “cellular memory,” where the body stores pictures of life events or memories within the cells. Many believe that hurtful memories, if not healed, can eventually be destructive to a person’s health. But we have the ability to use our memory for good, and when we do, healing occurs. Psalm 103:2-3 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not (in other words remember) all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.”
During my times in thanksgiving therapy, I would only let myself think about my good times with God. I set my mind on Jesus, His finished work on the cross, and His healing words to me. Just like in natural therapy appointments, I noticed myself crying during the first sessions. The truth is, crying isn’t always a sign of weakness. Oftentimes it’s a sign of healing where the calloused places of the heart are becoming soft and tender once again.
People go to therapy to deal with and talk about their issues. I love how the “woman with the issue of blood” didn’t stay the “woman with the issue of blood,” and we don’t have to keep on living with our issues if we’ll do what she did. She began hearing the reports concerning Jesus, and she KEPT SAYING, “If I only touch His garments, I shall be restored to health.” The New Living Translation says, “for she thought to herself.” So she kept on hearing, kept on thinking, and kept on saying that she would be healed. Then, her miracle day came! As she touched His garment, “Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition” (Mark 5:28,29 nlt).
Think about the ten lepers who were all miraculously healed. Only one of them took the time to go back and say thank you to Jesus; and as a result, he was made completely whole. Thanksgiving will make you whole just like it did for him. So even before you feel your healing, before you see your provision, or before you experience your breakthrough, be thankful; and remember that victory belongs to those who give thanks in the space between where they are and where they want to be.