Gratitude has nothing to do with how much you have. It has nothing to do with how much money, how much stuff, how many friends, how much influence. People who overflow with these things never take the time to stop and be grateful, while people with just a little overflow with gratitude.
So, if gratitude has nothing to do with how much you have, what is the secret to being grateful?
Psalm 136 offers a healthy perspective on gratitude. Written after Israel’s return from exile in Babylon, it was composed for the worship service in the rebuilt Jewish temple. Today the psalm is still used by Jewish people as they celebrate Passover. Each line is followed by the same refrain (“His love endures forever”); a group of singers sing the first line and the congregation sings the refrain.
The psalmist opens the psalm with his “thesis statement”, if you will - our lives overflow with gratitude when we’re convinced God loves us, vv. 1–3.
The refrain, “His love endures forever,” forms the basis for thankfulness. The Hebrew word for “love” here is hesed, translated “steadfast love,” or covenant love. God’s love is forever; it’s not temporary or conditional.
The person who is convinced of the loyal love of God has a heart that overflows with gratitude.
So how can we know God loves us? We know God loves us because He saves us, 10–24.
The Jewish people annually celebrate the Passover meal with their family and friends and retell the story of their salvation, how God heard the Israelites’ cries for deliverance from servitude to the Egyptians and brought them into the Promised Land. By remembering God’s provision of salvation, the Israelites are reminded of his enduring love. Jesus saved us from our servitude to sin; he is our Passover lamb.
We know God loves us because He provides for us, 23–26.
The author thinks of his own circumstances as he writes this psalm—Israel is returning from Babylon. He sees God’s present provision as a sign of his love. God’s love for us is evidenced in his provision for our lives, in the big and the small things.
Our awareness of God’s love overflows as gratitude. A saying goes, “Gratitude can turn an ordinary meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend.”