What Kind of Gratitude Do You Show God?
By Dr. Abayomi Sanusi –
A gratitude, or ‘Thank you’ is an expression in response to the perceived benefit of an act, situation or event. It is rampant in society; can be a subtle indicator or strong evidence of the state of relationships, but does not always express the same thing. Each time gratitude is expressed there is a narrative behind that expression. There is a reason or a purpose. Before asking you how and why you say ‘Thank You’ to God I want to explain the seven plus one different kinds of gratitude I have come across in meditation. The different types of thanks:
The Seven Plus One different types of ‘Thank You’
The Encouragement ‘Thank You’
This type of gratitude is an advance or belated expression of inducement, persuasion or encouragement. The sort of encouragement to perhaps nudge a person to voluntarily fill out a questionnaire or form to help somebody else, or stop at the red traffic light to avoid mishaps. It can also be a form of inducement to refrain from something potentially undesirable thus indirectly benefiting others. A polite ‘Thank you for not smoking’ can be an example.
The Contractual ‘Thank You’
The contractual ‘Thank You’ is an expression of mutual agreement or understanding. An expression of satisfaction between parties similar to the contentment of an employee who just got paid for work done. It is the satisfaction of discovering you just received exactly what was promised by the retailer you handed your hard earned money over to; and there was no horse-meat in your beef lasagne. The terms of a deal have been adhered to, and all parties are satisfied. The contractual ‘Thank you’ is not mandatory, but there is understandable relief, perhaps contentment involved.
The Politeness ‘Thank You’
The sort of gratitude shown by a glad person when they receive something they deserve. Gratitude shown for recognition, or acknowledgement of hard work or achievement. A winner of an Oscar of Bafta award may say something like ‘This would not have been possible without my fans, director, friends and family. I thank you for your support’ .
The award, recognition or success is the result of that individual’s actions. They have earned it. Depending on the individual the politeness ‘Thank You’ might not necessarily acknowledge the effort of God, but puts the deserving individual in the spotlight.
The Unsolicited Favour ‘Thank You’
This is a straightforward expression of gratitude for a help, a favour, or a good act not asked for, expected or demanded. The unsolicited favour may or may not be deserved but it had not been requested, and there may elicit a feeling of surprise and sense of relief. Examples can be varied: someone opening the door, holding the elevator, unexpectedly paying a bill, getting you out of trouble, and so on. The gratitude is warm, genuine, and well deserved. Most people, I suspect, have a recollection of an unsolicited act of kindness they have had to be grateful for.
The Solicited Favour ‘Thank You’
Gratitude following the fulfilment of a requested favour is deserved and heart warming relief. It is an expression of satisfaction, an uplifting answer to an incessant pleading or fervent prayer. It is often a reinforcement of fraternity between well acquainted persons. It may turn an acquaintance into friendship, and a mere friendship into something yet deeper. Anyone who has declared a testimony after answers to their prayer have an idea of the feeling that goes with this kind of gratitude, influenced by the gravity of their testimony.
The Negative ‘Thank You’
The negative ‘Thank You’ can be very easy to recognise. The intention may not be to express a feeling of grateful appreciation of approval or contentment. It is an ironical gratitude, and is a wonderful indicator of the quality of a relationship. Examples may be nuanced in various clever ways but the following are good illustrations: “Thank you for your application but I am sorry to inform you that…..” or “Thank you for not interrupting……” or “Thank you for not messing it up……” or “Something bad has happened thanks to this person…. ”
The Danger-Terror ‘Thank You’
This is another kind of negative gratitude, where the person expressing the thanks expresses their ‘Thank You’ in fear, terror and difficulty. There is nothing polite, encouraging or hopeful, and they are not grateful, pleased or satisfied. The sayer of thanks feel they have to express gratitude to avert future suffering from the person terrifying them. It is a hostage situation ‘Thank You’ . I pray you will never experience or have to say such.
The ‘YOU Did It’ ‘Thank You’
There is a certain expression of a deeply heartfelt gratitude that is not just an expression of happiness or joy, but also a celebration of an individual’s spiritual surrender in recognition of their vulnerability to the person they are grateful to. It is often said in response to a miracle performed, an impossibility made possible, recognition of salvation, sanctification or sundry gentle acts of awe and wonder. This kind of gratitude is a mark of a deepening relationship between a person and their creator. It is pleasing to God, and is an act of worship. It comes from a certain level of knowledge or realisation. Until personally experienced, it is extremely easy to confuse this class of gratitude with those of unsolicited favours, solicited favours, and even the gratitude of politeness favours.
How much do you thank God? Why do you really thank God? What is the purpose of your thanks given to God? Do you try to persuade Him to do something for you? What kind of gratitude do you show?
In 2 Samuel 22 the background to his overwhelming sense of happiness and joy was set, and David poetically demonstrated the politeness, solicited and unsolicited kinds of gratitude. In verse 50 he states “ Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O lord, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name”. The role and effort of God was duly acknowledged in each feat of awe described, and in each case all the glory was duly given to God. But this still fell short of the ‘YOU did it’ kind of gratitude. In verses 21 and 22, we clearly see why!
Psalm 100 comes close to the kind of knowledge and realisation that elicits and backs up the ‘YOU Did it Gratitude’. Verse 3- Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. The role of the beneficiary is initially passive; a spiritual enlightenment that triggers the thanksgiving.
Jesus demonstrated the ‘You Did it’ kind of thank you most purposefully. In John 6.11- Jesus took a few loaves and fish, gave thanks and distributed them such that fed a great multitude. He did not ask for a miracle, He just went about to do what He does normally. Jesus had a level of revelation beyond his disciples, and in calm fashion tried to open their minds up to understanding God more (John 16.25-27). In John 11.41-42 Jesus demonstrated a level of relationship with God. He subsequently became wanted for more persecution, prosecution and death. (John 11.53)
Although we know Him to be deliberate, careful, sober and very prayerful; as recorded in the scriptures, Jesus Christ giving thanks before an act of miracle is not a common occurrence. The thanksgiving was not a condition for the performance of the miracles. The miracles themselves, following the saying of the ‘YOU did it’ gratitude, propelled Jesus to the next phase in his purpose, destiny and fulfilment. He soon afterward tasted of extreme suffering, physical death and re-unification with His father.
This level of gratitude is exclusive of encouragement, persuasion, and inducement; has nothing to do with agreements or contracts, politeness, or even the soliciting or free giving of miracles. It is more like an overwhelming sense of fellowship expressed upon a revelation of an aspect of God’s person you previously never had a clue about! (Matthew 17.6-7 Acts 9.5-6)
Is ‘Thanksgiving’ what you do normally? Do you realise the kind of gratitude you show God? Psalm 103.13-14, 22, 1-2; Phillipians 4.6-8
I pray that God will open your eyes and mine; with an interaction deep enough to bring us to a place where you and I individually already know He always hears and does what we ask of ( What a disposition!). Alas!, saying an ‘Amen’ to that prayer is hardly trivial; but requires the sort of dedication, surrender and persistence in God nobody ever recovers from. What sort of gratitude do you express to God?
What Kind of Gratitude Do You Show God, by Dr. Abayomi Sanusi as delivered at the RCCG Everlasting Father’s Arena, York on Sunday 17th March, 2013