Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. [Psalm 136:1 (ESV)]
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. [Meister Eckhart]
In a letter to his brother, C.S. Lewis said that ”thanking the Giver” was the “completion of a pleasure” and expressed his sorrow that unbelievers had no place for the “steam” or “spirit…given off by experiences to go.” As I walked early this morning and watched the sun come up over the pond, it looked like steam was rising off the water. It’s not really steam; called steam fog or evaporation fog, it has something to do with the warm moist layer of air over the water mixing with the cooler air from the land. Nevertheless, it made me think of Lewis’ words as I pictured our prayers of thanksgiving rising up like steam to God.
After ten men were healed of leprosy by Jesus, He told them to go and show themselves to the priests (the ones who could pronounce them free of the disease). In their rush to be declared clean, only one of them, a Samaritan, came back to thank our Lord. Although all ten certainly would enjoy being cured of this disfiguring disease that made them outcasts to society, did nine miss something of the joy in their healing and newfound health by failing to thank the Lord?
The occasion of Lewis’ thanks to “the Giver” was nothing special; he’d enjoyed dinner at a friend’s home the previous evening. Polite English gentleman that he was, I’m sure Lewis thanked his hosts. The capital “G” meant he was referring to God—the One truly responsible for the enjoyable dinner party, the food, his hosts, and the friendship he’d enjoyed. Like Lewis, I’m good about thanking my hosts at the time and often send a follow-up thank you note. Unlike Lewis, however, I’m not so good about then offering my thanks to God—the Giver who provided me with the fellowship of those friends. This morning, as I thanked God for an event I shared with church family yesterday, I thought of how that prayer really did complete the pleasure of the previous evening.
In all things, at all times, our thanksgiving should rise from us as steam does from a pond on a cool morning. Indeed, to be an unbeliever, to have no place to offer your thanksgiving, to have no God to acknowledge as the Giver of Gifts, must diminish one’s pleasure. Thanking God increases our joy; it’s like putting the whipped cream and cherry on top of a hot fudge sundae. Giving thanks is what completes the pleasure but what nine of those lepers missed.
To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. (Johannes A. Gaertner)