THE LIFE OF THANKSGIVING
H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III
H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 117th Pope of
Alexandria and the See of St. Mark
The Story of This Book
I gave a lecture on the life of Thanksgiving at the
Conference of Sunday School Teachers in 1965, which was held
at St. Mina's Church, Mandara, Alexandria. It was published
with other lectures - in a book titled `For You My Son'.
I gave another lecture at St Mark's Cathedral, Anba
Rewais, Cairo, on Friday 16th May 1980 and its topic was
`Giving thanks always for all things ` (Eph 5:20) This lecture
was not published.
Also, a third lecture - not published was given at St
Mark's Cathedral on the occasion of the New Year, on 31st
December 1980 mainly on the Life of Thanksgiving, and a part
on the Life of Submission and Hope.
GOD gave me time during my trip to Russia this month so I
combined the three lectures, with many additions in one book
on the `Life of Thanksgiving ` which is now in your hands. We
have published the first lecture in 1965 in a book with
contemplations on the prayer of Thanksgiving which was given
at St Mark's Cathedral in 1964. They have been reprinted
several times by St Mary's church Moharam Bey Alexandria.
We hope - God's willing - to publish the contemplations on the
Prayer of Thanksgiving amongst a book on the joint prayers in
the Agbia, e.g. Psalm 50 the Holy Trinity and have mercy on
us, O Lord have mercy on us.
Pope Shenouda III
Moscow: June 1988.
LIFE OF THANKSGIVING
1. Life of Thanksgiving
2. Giving Thanks Always
3. Thanksgiving for all Things
4. Levels of Thanksgiving
5. Thanksgiving Over Tribulations
6. Unlimited Thanksgiving
LIFE OF THANKSGIVING
He who lives the life of thanksgiving is a noble person,
acknowledges and does not forget a favour NEVER forgets any
good offered to him, and expresses his thanks.
Thanksgiving is in his heart on the tip of his tongue, for God and
The Lord Jesus blessed the Samaritan - one of the ten lepers
who were cleansed. When the only one returned to Jesus. "and
fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks". So Jesus
answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where
are the nine?" "Were there not any found who returned to
give glory to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:15-18)
Therefore, when you give thanks, you are glorifying God,
acknowledging his loving, kindness to you.
If God has done something good to you through anyone, you
give thanks to God and also to this person, who was the means
in receiving such goodness.
Most people give thanks to God at the beginning and end of
the each day, and on occasions like new year, feasts and certain
important events in their lives, but the life of thanksgiving has
its characteristics, perhaps in the first place is the saying of the
apostle: "Giving thanks always for al things"(Eph. 5:20).
Giving Thanks Always
Then our giving thanks to God has no specific occasions but it
is "Always". And as long as it is continuous, it covers the
whole life and therefore the expression "Life of Thanksgiving"
applies to it.
The same teaching was explained in the first epistle of the
Thessalonians, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in
everything give thanks" (1 Thess 5:16-18).
On account of this, the Prayer of Thanksgiving precedes all
All the church rituals and masses begin with the prayer of
Thanksgiving, also the seven prayers (in the Agbia) either in the
morning or at night. We always give thanks to God "evening
and morning and at noon". Also we says the Psalmist "at
midnight I will rise to give thanks to you, because of your
your righteous judgments".
In addition to the general prayer of thanksgiving, we give
thanks in absolutions of the hours:
In the first Hour we say " We thank you O Eternal King, for
you permitted us to pass this night in peace and brought us to
the day break " ... we thank Him for keeping us safe during
the night and giving us a new day in life.
In the Third Hour we say "We give you thanks for raising us
up to pray at this holy hour, where you poured Your Holy
Spirit in abundance, upon your disciples and honourable
apostles like tongues of fire"
In the Sixth Hour, we say "We give thanks to you O our King
The Almighty, Father of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, we
glorify you because you made the time of suffering of your
Only Begotten Son , a time of prayer and comfort".
In the Sunset prayer, we say " We thank You , O our
Compassionate King, for you granted us to pass this day in
peace, and brought us thankfully to the evening, and made us
worthy to see the light until sunset.
We thank God for every hour that passes in peace. Then, it is a
continuous thanksgiving either at the beginning of every prayer
or at certain occasions.
Thanksgiving For All Things
The church begins with the prayer of thanksgiving even at
funerals. The apostle says "And whatever you do in word or
deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to
God" (Col 3:17)
We thank you on every occasion, in every condition and for all
So, it is not only giving thanks always but also for all things,
because God continually makes good to us. The Apostle said:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those
who love God" (Rom 8:28) , either in the apparent good or in
matters that seem not for good, but in fact it is good and we do
For this we call God the "Beneficent". He does not do except
good, and the person who believes in this, gladly accepts
everything which comes from Him and says in faith "... All
things work together for good", and gives thanks to God . But,
some might ask and say : we believe - without doubt - that
whatever comes from God is good , but what about that which comes
from people and might not all be good? ! We say to them: if
the attitudes of people towards us were good , it will reach us
good, but if it were not, God will change it, and it will reach us
good at the end.
The brothers of the righteous Joseph sold him as a slave; their
action was in itself evil, treachery, lack of love, cruelty and
envy. But God changed that evil into good and Joseph "was
made a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of his people". He was the
second in the Kingdom and his stay in Egypt was to preserve
live. He told his brothers, "you meant evil against me;; but
God meant it for good, ... to save many people alive". (Gens.
The children of God are always joyful, they thank Him for all
And when they thank Him, not merely in compliance to the
commandment "Give thanks" as an imposed order!! No
because this is not the true thanksgiving. To give thanks is not
just words to be said without conviction, as if performing a
But they thank God from all the heart and with all confidence.
They are completely confident that God will not allow anything
bad to happen to them, and being Almighty, He watches all
matters occurring to them, and takes a stand in their favour.
For this reason, the life of thanksgiving is bound up in the life of
faith, as will be seen when we talk about the virtues relating to
Man could thank God by words, and could offer a sacrifice of
praise, peace offerings or vows and as the Prophet David said,
"I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of
the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence
of all people" (Psalm 116:13-14).
Levels Of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving in the life of the children of God is in levels:
The least is giving thanks for the miracles, gifts, great pleasures
and the plentiful good things , which no one doubts its
goodness and benefit. Perhaps, other than this, some do not
give thanks! (Simple). Pleasures might pass over them, and
other good things they might see as natural and normal and
needs no thanks!
There is a higher level of thanksgiving; to give thanks over
It might be a normal level in the life of thanksgiving to give
thanks over the recover from a serious illness like cancer. But ,
if a person gave thanks for the recovery from a flu or cold, it
indicates that in his life he is used to give thanks over many or
If we gave thanks over a few things, God will make us rulers
over many things.
Perhaps, among the advantages of thanksgiving are the
continuity of the blessings and its increase, as one of the Fathers
said, "Not a gift without increase, except that without
There is also thanksgiving over what is hidden, over what is
Thanksgiving for the wars and troubles which were possible to
come to us but did not because of God's keeping and care.
Thanksgiving for the work of God in looking after us, although
we cannot see that, but we completely believe in it.
Undoubtedly, Satan is doing his utmost to harm us and to make
us fall . If we are now well, it is because God has stopped the
harm which we do not know and we thank God over the
tribulations from which He saved us, but there are difficulties
that He stopped on the way before it come to us. We do not
know it, but we thank Him for protecting us ..
Our thanksgiving for saving us, this is something we can see.
But , thanksgiving for protecting us is for something which we
Believe me, if God disclose the calamities we were exposed to
and He cast away from us if He uncover this, our whole life will
not be enough to thank Him.
We give thanks on the hidden matters - which are in God's
knowledge, and which we might know later, in time, or might
In all this, thanksgiving is mixed with love.
Another level is giving thanks always for all things, in which the
whole life of man is to give thanks for whatever condition he
lives in, and we have explained this matter. Constant
thanksgiving does not need a specific reason but it is enough
that we are in God's care, and we are His children, and such
feeling is connected with the life of submission. Our thanks do
not absolutely depend on the specific condition in which we are.
Thanksgiving Over Tribulation
The highest level of thanksgiving is to give thanks over
We thank God over the tribulations from which He saved us,
and this is the least . But , what is greater than this is also thank
Him over the prevailing tribulations which we bear and live in.
And with faith we believe it is for our good. To endure and bear
the tribulations is a virtue. To be content with the tribulation
and accept it is a greater virtue. And more important is to give
thanks over the tribulation, to thank with joy and not as mere
Believe me, if we thank over the gifts only, then our love is for
the gifts not for God its Giver!
But , if we give thanks to God over the tribulation we prove
that we love God Himself and not His gift ie. we do not only
love Him for what He gives us wealth, generosity, comforts of
life, or what He grants us, calmness and peace God only is our
goal , either He gave us tribulations or good things we thank
Him on every occasion and in every condition we thank Him
whatever happens, and do not allow mishaps to lessen our faith
in God's protection or lessen our thanks to Him. We do not
allow such events to take away our peace from us, or our
rejoice in the Lord. We rejoice in the Lord always - whatever
the outer circumstances may be - and live in peace with God
This thanksgiving and rejoice has its effects on others. And
therefore, when they see our thanks over the tribulation, our
calmness and rejoice, they are comforted. Assuredly, when they
see our peace of heart, they will be consoled by the spiritual
principles presented by the Bible yet to be an example to them
with our life and behaviour. It is said that the fruits of the Spirit
are "Love, Joy, Peace...". He who posses such fruits, he
gives thanks to God.
Also, tribulations need thanksgiving because it strengthen the
spiritualities. It gives man depth in prayer and depth in the
relation with God, depth in fasting and faith. It reunites and lifts
the hearts of its children to God . Perhaps a severe tribulation
leads man to the life of repentance, better than a hundred
sermons and reading many spiritual books.
In tribulations, we see the hand of the Lord works.
It shows us the Lord and His work, His coming into our lives
and His protection. It show us the power of God and His
wonders. It gives us spiritual experiences which we could not
attain without the tribulation. Also, it sifts the church and
separates the tares from the wheat. For all these reasons and
others, we give thanks to God over tribulation and considers it
a blessing. Of course, he who thanks over tribulation shall give
thanks for all other things.
So, he lives the constant life of thanksgiving and never
Tribulations Worthy Of Thanksgiving
To illustrate an example, when our Fathers the Apostles were
imprisoned and scourged, the Bible says that after they were set
free, "...they departed from the presence of the council,
rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His
Name". (Acts 5:41) So, our Fathers the Apostles considered all
such sufferings and insults as a blessing they do not deserve.
Because these tribulations are fellowship of the sufferings of
The Bible says, "For to you it has been granted on behalf of
Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His
sake". (Phil 1:29).
Therefore, the sufferings are gifts and as long as they are gifts,
why don't we rejoice in them and give thanks over it?
St Paul, the Apostle said, "That I may know Him and the power
of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being
conformed to his death." (Phil 3:10)
This is the fellowship of the sufferings for which our Fathers the
A spiritual person - if the Lord gives him a cross to carry - he
shall rejoice and give thanks, as it is a fellowship of the
sufferings of Christ.
He gives thanks over tribulation, exactly as he gives thanks over
gifts, because tribulation is a gift.
Many concentrate on the sufferings and pain in tribulations, but
the spirituals contemplate on another thing, ie. why our loving
Lord allow such tribulations? By all means, there must be
something good in them and if we cannot see it now, it does not
mean it is not existent. By faith we can see it, even if by
viewing we cannot.
We can learn a lesson from the sorrows and troubles of Jonah
Jonah was swallowed by the whale. Would he give thanks over
this? Yes, because this was the only way which saved him from
drowning, and made him carry out his mission and cry out
Jonah was saddened when the plant which gave shade to his
head- withered: But if he stretched his spiritual sight further, he
will see that its withering was the introduction to his
reconciliation with God; a matter for which he must give
The father of St. Anthony the Great died. Was this a cause for
Where is the son who can give thanks over the death of his
father?! If it is improper for Anthony to do that, we are the
ones to give thanks because the death of this father made this
saintly young man contemplate on the triviality of the earthly
life. This was the first motive for him to become a monk. He
established for us this angelic ritual he looked at his father's
body and said, "Where is your greatness, power and wealth?
You came out of this world against your will, but I shall go out
by my will before they send me out unwillingly". So, he left the
world and became the father to all monks.
John, the beloved, was exiled at the Isle of Patmos, Do you
think we thank the Lord over this?
Undoubtedly yes, because the tribulation lifted his spirit to the
Lord; "He was in the spirit" (Rev 1:10). At the exile, he saw
heaven opened, and the throne of God surrounded by the
heavenly hosts and saw what would occur later, and wrote the
Book of Revelation.
No doubt the exile of John was the best days of his life. It was
a matter worthy of thanksgiving.
It is important that our vision is not restricted to the bounds of
the problem, but look forward to what comes out of it and see
the great goodness which the Lord has purposed from it.
If we do not give thanks over the difficulty itself, we thank over
the goodness meant by it.
Men of the world may lose the senses of thanksgiving when
they fall into various sorrows and troubles: And if you ask any
of them to give thanks to the Lord, he answers you in anger and
amazement; "For what should I give thanks?! You can see the
anxieties within me".
But the saintly children of God are not bothered with such
Because separation from God is their only worry, and as long
they are attached to Him, it is enough for their constant life of
They thank Him in every condition, in poorness and in wealth,
in sickness and in health, for life and for death. They always
give thanks because in all this, they did not lose their main goal
which is their attachment to God you always see them rejoicing
and joyful, and everyone says:
If I lose everything, and only God is left for me; this would be
enough and I thank the Lord for it.
Because for me God is everything, all in all. Nothing grieves
me?! Paul the Apostle says, "Therefore I take pleasure in
infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in
distresses, for Christ's sake".(2 Cor 12-10). He takes pleasure
because distresses make him much nearer to God, and while he
is in this weakness, the strength of God comes down to protect
him and then he becomes much stronger, and therefore he said
immediately afterwards, "For when I am weak, then I am
strong". Besides, distresses bring on crowns to him if he
If something painful happened to a spiritual person, he says
unless there is some goodness behind it, God will not permit it
and therefore I have to accept it .
If man lives the true life of thanksgiving, he would give thanks
to God over every breath he respires, every step he walks, every
work he does, everything that comes to him. He does not see
anything which is not worthy of thanksgiving, and says about all
what happens to him, "it is all for the good."
FIELDS OF THANKSGIVING
There are many reasons for which we give thanks to God, or
considered a matter for thanksgiving, but we rarely do! Some
seems a mere normal thing, while other things make us joyful,
and we feel content but do not give thanks. Thirdly, there are
matters where the work and kindness of God are clearly shown,
but we give thanks momentarily. We will try in this chapter to
present some of the fields of thanksgiving:
1. Thank God for He created you and give you existence:
Truly, does anyone thank God because He created and gave
him life?! It was possible not to be existent, and God was not
obliged to add one to the population of the world! Thank God
that your mother was not barren, but was given the blessing of
giving birth. Your birth is a great blessing from God; it is said in
the Psalm, "Behold children are a heritage from the Lord." (Ps
127:3). It was possible that your father could have been denied
this heritage! or given your brothers and sisters only, and not
you in particular!
In this context, how beautiful are these lines in the Liturgy of St
Gregory, wherein the priest gives thanks to the Lord, saying:
"You have created me man- being lover of mankind- and You
were not in need of my servitude, rather, it is I who am in need
of Your Lordship. Out of your great kindness, You have
brought me into being where I was not..."
2. Thank God for the Nature around you:
It is most appropriate for us all to thank God because he
created man on the sixth day. He prepared everything for his
comfort before his creation. He created heaven and decorated it
with the sun, the moon and the stars. He created light and laid
all the laws of astronomy, which join nature's connections in
this wonderful world. He arranged matters relating to air,
temperature and rain. Also, He created plants and animals and
other living creatures on the earth, sky or sea. He produced
food for man before He created him. The beauty of nature,
gardens and flowers, the singing of birds were created for his
After He prepared all means of comfort, He created man.
Who gives thanks to God for this beautiful nature in its
sufficiency and diversity?! The holy church gives us this
spiritual practice in the thankful and grateful prayer wherein the
priest says, "You have lifted up heavens and a roof for me and
established earth to walk on. For my sake, you calmed the sea,
for my sake you have manifested the nature of animal. You do
not make me need anything of the works of Your Honour..."
3. Thank God for the natural talents He gave you:
Many do not give thanks except for the supernatural talents
like healing the sick, raising the dead, spiritual revelation and
But, who gives thanks to God for the talents of wisdom, and
knowledge which were put first, before the gifts of healings and
the working of miracles (1 Cor 12:8-10)
For example, do you thank God for what he gave you of
wisdom or intelligence or imagination.?
And do you thank Him for giving you the talent of drawing or
composing poetry or music? or because He gave you a sweet
voice, or a beautiful face, or convincing ability, or the power of
endurance and patience? All these are talents from God for
which we need to give thanks.
4. Do you thank God for the faith you are in ?
Do you thank Him for being born a Christian, and without
making any effort to reach this faith?!
As many people desire this faith but cannot find it they toil so
much, but cannot reach it because they face many doctrinal,
family, social and other problems while you attained this faith
freely and easily, as you have been born in it and in this belief.
I heard a story about an atheist philosopher, who saw an
illiterate peasant praying. He wondered how this simple man is
kneeling in his field talking with whom he cannot see talking
with all his heart, his feelings with all confidence so he said, "I
am prepared to give up all my philosophy and all what I studied,
and in return, I have a bit of faith which this peasant enjoys...".
Your faith is a grace which the atheist countries never attained,
and the atheists in the believing countries.
You also thank God not only for your faith, but mainly because
your faith is perfect as many deviated from their faith due to
their mixing up with the thoughts of other beliefs, either
through their meetings, books or articles. Their faith is not as it
was before, but it has changed in its beliefs! You give thanks to
God because you are living in perfect faith, away from these
5. Thank God for being still alive:
This conforms what is said in the thanksgiving prayer we thank
God because "He brought us to this hour". My brother, your
life is a gift from God; He can keep it or end it at any time. He
is renewing it for you day by day and hour by hour. You thank
Him for this day you are living and this opportunity He has
given to you so you can improve your spiritual level and do
Thank Him because, with this life, He gave you a chance for
One writer said, "Millions of millions of those who are in Hades
long for one hour of life on earth or even one minute, to offer
repentance to God ...".
They want time- whatever short it is- to submit to God a full
confession of their sins, asking for His forgiveness one minute
to say the phrase of the tax collector, "God be merciful to me a
sinner!" (Luke 18:13)
If God decides upon taking away your soul now, don't you
wish to have a few minutes of this life-time of yours?!
You say to Him, Lord, few minutes to distribute all my
possessions among the poor, "to lay up a treasure in heaven"
(Matt 6:20). Lord, few minutes to reconcile to all those I
contended with, and apologise to them even if they were wrong.
Yes, few minutes to confess all my sins in detail, even the things
that embarrass me and could not be told. I say it without shame
"before the door is shut and leave me standing outside knocking
like the five foolish virgins" (Matt 25:10-12).
Yes, why don't you thank God for the life He has given to you?
Why don't you thank Him for the days still ahead of you, in
which you can do many things that please God, and make
people happy and gain you the kingdom of Heaven; you repent
and lead a spiritual life!
Don't you thank God unless you find a treasure of money, or
acquire a ranking position? How would you know, perhaps
such a treasure or position would be for your destruction, and
because of it you lose the Kingdom of Heaven!!
6. Thank God for the religious environment in which you
are brought up:
Thank Him because He gave you parents who cared about your
baptism, and taught you the way of the Lord or at least they
never prevented you from following His way. Thank Him for
the servants in the church, who looked after you until you
reached such level of spiritual knowledge and became aware of
Thank Him because He put good examples in your way, from
which you can learn the true life, and assigned someone to
guide you spiritually.
Thank Him because you are now in the church; At this moment
you find many of the young men enjoying themselves at the
different places of entertainment, forgetful of the salvation of
their souls. But you, you thank God because you are here in
the church, and the church became a part of your life which you
Had it not been for the grace of God on you, you could not
have been like that. Who, among you now, gives thanks to God
for embracing him in His house, and entering him in His
Thank God, also, as there are no obstacles to keep you off His
house and not unite with His children.
Numerous circumstances hinder many people from coming to
church: their working hours clash with church hours, their
health conditions, their many travels, living in a village or
migrated to a country where there is no church, or for any other
reason but for you, you give thanks to God because you do not
face any of these obstacles.
Thank Him because your association with His children gives
you spiritual strength.
Because they constantly push you forward and you find with
them a holy environment where you exchange spiritual talks.
Also their behaviour may cause you embarrassment if you
misbehave. Your relation with them strengthens your unity
with the church and its activities and meetings. Also, you find
in their circles pure, spiritual friendships which satisfy your
emotions, and as the Bible said, "Two are better than one, for if
they fall one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is
alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up". (Eccl 4:
Then, isn't it right that you thank God for your spiritual
Every spiritual friend is a treasure, for which you give thanks to
God. The same applies to the spiritual father or instructor, and
whoever supports you in your spiritual life. Thank God for the
persons whom He put in your way and you benefited from
them. It is He who sent them to you.
7. Also, we thank God because He did not deal with us
according to our sins.
This is what David the Prophet said in Psalm 103 which begins,
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His
holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His
benefits", until it says, " The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abounding in mercy... He has not dealt with
us according to our sins nor punished us according to our
iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so
great is His mercy towards those who fear Him ; as far as the
east is from the west. So far has he removed our transgressions
from us; as the father pities his children, so the Lord pities
those who fear him. For he knows our frame; He remembers
that we are dust."(Ps. 103:8-14).
And we therefore cry out to the Lord in our prayers saying
"according to your mercy O Lord, and not according to our
sins." How wonderful that God does much more to us; He does
not punish us but shows mercy !
How many times-when we are in the depth of sin-we call upon
Him and He answers lovingly, as if we did not sin against Him
and did not break His commandments! He makes us feel bad by
His love and compassion. Don't we thank Him very much for
He who looks at his sins and how they are ugly, he wonders
how God is merciful and very patient with him..
How many sins, which seem much simpler than yours, received
severe punishments :
v Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter the Apostle by keeping
back a part of the money, and the result was that they both fell
down and breathed their last, without being given a chance to
repent. Nevertheless, how many people repeatedly lie every day.
They may lie to priests and head priests and God is patient not
to punish them. The Lord Jesus says "...but whoever says, you
fool shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matt 5:22) How many
times we say this phrase, or the like in meaning then we confess
and God forgives us with no danger of hell fire.
E Herod the king was glorified by the people who said, "The
voice of a god and not of a man. Then immediately an angel of
the Lord struck him , because he did not give glory to God. and
he was eaten by worms and died ."(Acts 12:22 - 23)
And when we are glorified by people, we keep silent and God
does not punish us !
E Zacharias the priest, because he did not believe in having a
son at his old age, he was punished by God by keeping him
mute for nine months, until the child was born.
Don't we sin every day more than Zacharias the priest, and yet
no punishment !
Then, don't we thank God for not dealing with us according to
our sins?! Let us count the sins we commit every day, perhaps
every hour, which God encounter with great patience! Yet, we
are living and with tolerance of the Lord, it will lead us to
We thank Him for His wondrous endurance. People do not put
up with us over a few things-they are liable to be at fault like
us-and God the All-Holy, the righteous and the just, bears many
things which we repeatedly do everyday , and yet we do not
thank! He endures us. He bears all the sins people commit all
over the world, at all times, in the past and now and in the
future. He did not strike the people with great plagues as He
did before; the flood and the fire on Sodom and yet we do not
Will you not kneel down and say. "I thank you Lord because
you endured, and still endures me and my ingratitude! Truly
Lord you are good and kind. How truthful is the saying of
David the prophet, "O God, who is like you? Among the gods
there is none like you. O Lord " (Ps. 71:19); "Nor there are
any works like your works." (Ps 86:8)
It is beautiful to contemplate the dealings of God, either with
you or with others, as well as to contemplate His good
attributes which you admire, then you thank Him for it. You
thank Him because He is kind, good, loving, forgiving, patient,
and, "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are
dust."(Ps 103:14) and treat us accordingly.
8. Thank God for His loving-kindness and care:
Thank Him for His loving-kindness to you and all your friends,
relatives, acquaintances and other people. Thank Him for His
loving-kindness to the family, the church and to the nation.His
general and private loving-kindness.
Sit with yourself and review your life since your birth:
How many times you pleaded with the Lord and He granted
your plea? How many times He delivered you out of your
troubles? How many exams He made you pass and you were
not prepared for them? How many times He healed you? How
many problems He solved for you? How many sins you
committed and were not revealed to people? How many times
He was with you in your service and activities? How many
times you were given grace in the eyes of others? How many
offenses He delivered you from?
Can you count His loving-kindness to you?! I suppose this is
not possible! How much more if you add to it His loving-
kindness to your beloved and the good things that came to you
without prayer and even without asking, but because of the
abundance of His grace and love . All this, put it before you
and give thanks in every detail, especially the matters which
were very complicated, and no one can solve except God record
all this lest you forget.
9. Thank Him for your state of health:
Who gives thanks to God because he can see?
But if his eyes caught a disease and began treatment, he then
feels the gift of vision, for which he did not give thanks before.
Who gives thanks to God because He can walk on his feet? But
if he suffered a fracture in his leg and needed a walking-stick to
lean on, he then realizes that walking on his feet is something
we should give thanks for. It is true the proverb which says,
"health is a crown on the heads of those who are well, only the
sick can feel it."
It is common that we can not feel the value of the thing we have
unless it is lost. We therefore give no thanks to God because
the systems of our body are sound, unless one became
defective. No one thanks God for a sound stomach which
digests food well. But, if it became sick with an ulcer, he then
gives thanks to God for every day his stomach goes normally,
without any pain and with no medicine taken?
Therefore thank God for your good health, as many desire to be
in your position, and they cannot.
10. As you thank Him for the good health, thank Him also
for the sickness
Sickness in itself is not bad; poor Lazarus was full of sores and
dogs were licking his sores. But, all this was not bad in itself
and did not separate him from God, but on the contrary it was
for his own good. When he was taken to Abraham's bosom, it
was said that, "in his lifetime he received evil things; but now
he is comforted." (Luke 16:25)
St Basil the great said, "you do not know what is good for you:
health or sickness.
The Apostle St. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh for spiritual
benefit, " Lest he should be exalted above measure by the
abundance of the revelations. He pleaded with the Lord three
times that it might depart from him. " (2 Cor 12:8). But God
did not answer his prayer, but said to him, " My grace is
sufficient for you". Naturally, in our human weakness, we seek
good health but we do not know what is beneficial to us.
Perhaps Sickness makes me weary, but it helps me enter the
kingdom of Heaven. It was told in "The Paradise of the
Fathers" that a wealthy nobleman had an only daughter who
was ill and nearing death. He asked one of the saintly fathers to
pray for her recovery. The saint tried, by all means, to excuse
himself, but the nobleman insisted. The saint prayed and the girl
became well, but she lead a disgraceful life which brought
shame to her father who wished her death!!
It is surprising that many speak only of pains in sickness:
without mentioning the blessings and benefits of sickness!
Some could reach a state of grumble and distress, and even they
could ask God "Why have you done all this to me?" But you
should not be like that. But in your sickness you thank God for
the blessings you received because of this sickness:
Say to Him, I thank you God for this sickness which gave me
more time for prayer, or repentance and granted me humbleness
and broken heart and a feeling of my weakness. I thank you
God for this sickness which made me feel the love of people. I
thank you because this sickness gave me a period of isolation
which I spent in bed - which was necessary to me - at least to
search out my soul and be with you.
11. We also thank God because He has protected,
assisted, preserved, accepted us, had compassion on us,
supported us and brought us till this hour.
This is what the church teaches us in the Prayer of
Thanksgiving, which we repeat many times in the Prayers of the
Hours (AGBIA) every day and each contemplation.
We have published a special book "contemplations in the Prayer
of Thanksgiving" issued in 1964 - and re-printed several times -
you can refer to it .
12. Thank God also for the good you see and the good you
You thank him for the good you observe by sight, and the good
you see by faith. God who calls us to do good in secret, and He
sees what in secret and reward us openly (Matt 6: 4-6). He
also does many good things in secret for which we must thank
him openly. Many of the good we now enjoy, God was
preparing it for us since long years, and we did not know. And
He is still preparing many good things for us, the outcome of
which will appear in the future, and then we will thank Him for
it . He is doing good for us now and at all times, but we cannot
Every good deed we are doing, the hand of God is in it, and had
it not been for that, we could not have made anything good at
all Isn't He who said , "...Without Me you can do nothing. "
Then it is Him Who works in us and with us. Here, St.Paul the
Apostle says: "For it is God Who works in you both to will and
to work, on behalf of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)
13- And here we must thank Him for the grace working in
Grace is among the principal matters which we must put at the
top of our list of thanksgiving. the Apostle St Paul says, "But
by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace towards
me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they
all, yet not I but the grace of God which was with me!" (1
Cor. 15:10) Doesn't He deserve all the thanksgiving for this
grace working in us ?!
We then thank Him for the communion of the Holy Spirit in our
lives, which is a part of the blessing given to us. We thank Him
because He made us temples of His Holy Spirit, as the Apostle
said, "Do you know that you are the temple of God and that the
Spirit of God dwells in you." (1 Cor 3:16) The Spirit
of God which dwells in us "will convict the world of sin"
(John 16:8) and "will teach us all things" (John 14:26) and
"will guide us into all truth" (John 16:13). And "He will give
us the power to serve and we will be witness to God in every
place." (Acts 1:8) Don't we give thanks always for the work
of the Spirit in us.
If at sometime we did a good work, we give thanks to God for
what we did, because He is the one who did it through us.
It is a big mistake because instead of giving thanks to God, we
boast and thank ourselves, as if we had done this work by our
power of godliness. This boast hinders the work of grace in us
that we do not become righteous in our own eyes (Job 32:1)
and therefore we grieve the Holy Spirit. Would we then
remember the saying of St Paul "..He who glories, let him glory
in the Lord." (2 Cor 10:17).
Because He Who gives the will, strength and the knowledge,
and without Him we cannot do anything. If St Paul says, "Yet
not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor
15:10), what can we, the weak and powerless, say. What we
can do is to thank God and give back the credit to Him, then the
work of grace will increase in us and the fruits will multiply.
14. Also, thank God for the great redemption He offered to
There is something more important than all the previous things,
for which we ought to give thanks all day and night it is the
great redemption offered to us on the cross, and without it, we
all could have perished. Who of us thank our Lord Jesus Christ
for being crucified for our sake? Because He became
incarnated and shed His blood for us? No one could have been
saved from the sentence of death without the incarnation of the
Son, His crucifixion and His death.
With His death, Christ saved us because He died for us. Who
of us, each day and each night remember the cross of Christ,
and give thanks to Him because He paid the price on our behalf,
and without this price, the good deeds or repentance or
anything else could have been of no use.
Christ died for us and we became "...justified freely by His
grace." (Rom 3:24)
Then don't we thank Him for the free salvation we received?
This salvation in which we made no effort, and which God
arranged for us without our asking! and surely we were not
worthy "But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in
that while we were sinners, Christ died for us." , "... in due
time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom 5:8-6) "The just for
the unjust" (1 Pet 3:18). What a great love and what a
sacrifice? We ought to put this salvation always in front of us
and give thanks to God for it..
The church reminds us of this matter in many occasions lest we
Every year it celebrates the Passion Week (Pascha) and Good
Friday with its deeply effective memories, so that we cannot
forget the cross of the Lord, but we remember and give thanks.
Is this yearly commemoration enough? No, because we forget.
So, the church made Friday of each week a fasting day in which
we remember the cross of Christ but is this weekly
remembrance enough? No, therefore, the church set down for
us the prayer of the sixth hour of the day to remember this great
Every day we thank God because He gave us such great
It is a sort of a collective thanksgiving for the whole church,
said by all the faithful, "... for You were pleased to willingly go
to the cross to rescue Your creation from the slavery of the
enemy. We thank you Christ, for You filled us all with joy,
when You came to help the world, Glory be to You."
15. We also thank God because He gave us to know Him:
In the prayers of the Liturgy of St Gregory, the priest says,
"You gave me your knowledge", and "You sent me the law for
support". Do we thank Him for the good news in the Gospel,
all what is in the Holy Bible about God, His work and His
dealings and His holy attributes?
In the church, when a sermon of one of the saints is read to us,
we sing a hymn to thank him because he enlightened the eyes of
our hearts with his useful teachings, so, what thanks we can
give for the treasures our saintly fathers the prophets and
apostles left for us. They left us all the commandments of God,
His law and prophecies "....moves by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet
We knew God in His Book and we saw Him in His Son. "No
one has seen God at any time. The Only Begotten Son who is
in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." (John
1:18) and by Him, we knew the Father and He himself said to
the Father, "O righteous Father! The world has not known
you, but I have known you,... And I have declared to them your
name, and will declare it, that the love with which you loved
Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:25-26)
Blessed is the Lord who gave us to know Him and His ways.
Also, know His commandments, His teachings, His prophets
and saints. We thank Him for this knowledge which we are not
worthy of. We thank Him because He gave us to know "things
which must shortly take place..." (Rev 1:1)
16. We thank Him for His promises to us:
We thank Him for the eternal comfort He is preparing for us in
the heavenly Jerusalem "The tabernacle of God with men, and
He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people." (Rev
21:3). He promised us saying, "... I will come again and
receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
(John 14:3). He also promised us with what "Eye has not
seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the
things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
(1Cor 2:9). Also to sit with Him on His throne as He sits down
with the Father on His throne. (Rev 3:21). He promised that
we eat from the hidden manna and from the tree of life (Rev
2:17 & 7).
These are promises in the eternity, together with His promises
to us on earth.
We thank Him for His promise to be with us always, even to the
end of the age (Matt 28:20). Also His saying, "For where two
or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the
midst of them." (Matt 18:20). We thank Him for His promises
to keep us, and His saying, "But the very hairs of your head are
all numbered." (Matt 10:30). Also His saying to each one of
us, "I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands." (Is 49:16)
17. We thank Him because He called us His children and
St John the beloved said, "Behold what manner of love the
Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of
God." (1 John 3:1). He taught us to pray and say, "Our Father
in heaven..." (Matt 6:9). He also said, "No longer do I call
you servants... but I have called you friends." (John 15:15).
He called us His own, and it was said, "having loved His own
who were in the world, He loved them to the end." (John 13:1)
He considered our relationship with Him like the relation
between the branch and the vine, the body and the head and the
bride and her bridegroom . He said, "I am the vine, you are the
branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much
fruit." (John 15:5). The Apostle St Paul said that He is, "...
head over all things to the church which is His body." (Eph
1:23). Also, "For the husband is head of the wife as also
Christ is head of the church." (Eph 5:23). He said more than
this, "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His
bones." (Eph 5:30). When He mentioned that the church is the
bride of Christ, He said, "This is a great mystery" (Eph 5:23).
Also, John the Baptist said about Christ and the church, "He
who has the bridge is the bridegroom." (John 3:29).
We also give thanks to God because He made His relationship
with us a relation of love not of fear.
He said the first commandment is, "You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all
your mind." (Matt 22:27). St John the Apostle said, "In this is
love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His
Son to be the propitiation for our sins." ( 1 John 4:10), He also
said "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God,
and God in him. There is no fear in love; but perfect love
casts out fear." (1 John 4:16-18).
VIRTUES RELATING TO THANKSGIVING
4. The Perfect Objective
5. Other Virtues
The life of thanksgiving is connected with other virtues which
precede and incorporate into it. Faith is among these virtues
and in particular, I mean the faith in God in certain qualities,
without which we cannot reach the life of thanksgiving, and in
the first place:
The faith in God as doer of good things, and lover of mankind
for all things.
He loves you as a person more than you love yourself, and
cares for you more than you care for yourself, and therefore He
always does you good. As lover of mankind He must do good
with you even without your asking. He is able to give you all
you need whatever the obstacles may lie. He is all powerful.
He is also the Almighty, watches over everything "He shall
preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The
Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in." (Ps
The freedom that God granted man does not mean that He gave
up running the universe, leaving every one to do what he likes
without control. But God gives freedom, observes, watches
over everything and guides the affairs according to his good
will. He changes what needs change, suspends some matters,
and does not allow others and all this needs thanksgiving.
Here, you thank God for His running the universe and
preserving you from the wicked.
Fear goes away from you and you feel secure with the
protection of God because the evil you fear comes to you from
three sources: Either evil people, or the demons or yourself.
And God the Almighty rules over all these sources, and how
many times He blocks it for your salvation whether you know
or you do not know. God does not grant absolute freedom to
anyone, otherwise the world will perish! Listen to David
singing: "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when
men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us
alive, when their wrath was kindled against us." (Ps 124:2-3).
Therefore, thank God because He preserves you from evil men
"... and no one will attack you to hurt you". (Acts 18:10). If
one day you suffered any harm, be sure it is for your benefit and
it will end good, and you will receive a blessing out of it.
Thank God for all you get, even the evil which God will turn
Even the devils are not completely free in what they do.
God does not leave them to their pleasure otherwise they will
destroy the whole earth! It is quite clear in the story of Job and
how the freedom of Satan was limited; he proposed certain
things which God allowed some and denied others, imposing
limits and restrictions. First, He said to him, "Behold, all that
he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person."
(Job 1:12). The second time He allowed him to lay his hand on
Job's body "... but spare his life." (Job 2:6).
Then, thank God who restricted the freedom of Satan. This
grants you peace of heart so you do not fear Satin or his allies
of wicked men. Peace and non-fear is a blessing for which you
thank God and confidently say, "If God is for us, who can be
against us?" (Rom 8:31). Therefore, you live in permanent
security which is also a blessing that needs thanksgiving.
The faithful person lives in peace, security, confidence in God's
work, non-fear and with this faith, his life turns to constant
This faith which caused him the thanksgiving is also a blessing.
He sleeps in the bosom of God peacefully, thanking Him for His
care, whatever the pressure of the surrounding circumstances.
This is because he constantly looks at the work of God and not
the pressing circumstances, and says with David the Prophet in
the fullness of faith: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me."
Our short humanly vision might stand against this faith, and
consequently, it will not allow the existence of thanksgiving.
But it could cause worry, fear and the feeling that the divine
help is far! Our humanly vision is short and limited because it
only sees the current problems and do not see the coming
solutions! It sees the present pain and do not see the future joy.
Therefore, if you live in the problem you suffer, but if you live
in the faith you will see many solutions, and become joyful and
give thanks to God.
There is a big difference between faith and sight.
Sight means you see the things with your eyes, and you do not
give thanks except for the tangible good which your eyes see.
But, in faith you give thanks for the good you see and believe it
exists trusting in the work of God. Faith sees what the eye
cannot see and the senses cannot feel.
It sees the work of God and His coming grace and help. Also,
it sees the future work of God as if it is existent now, and
rejoices with it and gives thanks for it. He sees God leading
him into green pastures, and preserves his going out and his
coming in. Faith says with the Apostle: "All things work
together for good to those who love God". (Rom 8:28)
Oh, that you learn this verse and put it always in front of you so
it will be a spring of thanksgiving for you. Take note in this
verse the phrase "to those who love God". Those who love
God, they feel His love and trust His promises, and therefore
they are very confident that all things work for them for good
because it is under the control of God, lover of mankind.
Accordingly they live in constant joy and thanksgiving in line
with their love to God. "...love believes all things" (1 Cor 13-
7). He believes that water can come out of the solid rock (Ex
17:6). He believes that God can make the sea into dry land in
which he walks safely, and also believes that God can rain bread
from heaven to eat. By faith, he can see God with him in the
lion's den, also in the burning furnace.
The whole thing is a mere time factor between faith and sight.
You believe in what you cannot see in senses and you give God
a period of time to show you this thing in sight after a while.
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed".
(John 20:29). Through faith, look at the problems- in the light
of God's intervention- which He turns into good.
Man must be patient and long-suffering to see the work of God.
There are works which seem difficult but it turns good in a
period of time, which might be long sometimes. Man needs to
wait the Lord Who without fail, will work at the right time
chosen by His good will.
We take an example of what happened to the upright Joseph:
He was sold as a slave, and although he accepted that and
served honestly and sincerely, a fabricated charge by the wife of
Potiphar resulted in his imprisonment. Time went by when he
thought that God has abandoned him, but, at the right time,
God turned this trial into good, released him from prison to
become the first ruler in Egypt. Therefore, it is a matter of
patience and waiting for God believing He is able to turn evil
Also, the story of Mordecai and Haman: For a long time
Mordecai received many persecutions from Haman who
prepared the gallows for him. He even persevered in his
injustice and arrogance that he almost destroyed the whole
people. But, at the proper time God interfered to save
Mordecai and the people, and "Haman was hanged on the
gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai". (Esth 7:10).
Look at the persecutions which Diocletian blew up against the
church. He was a very cruel ruler who shed the blood of many
martyrs, but at the proper time God interfered and saved His
people from Diocletian whose life had a bad ending.
Constantine issued Milan's decree in 313 AD allowing freedom
of religion. Christianity benefited from persecutions: depth in
spiritualities and firmness in faith.
There is no problem that lasts forever. Certainly it will end one
day, but it needs patience based on faith. Look at Job's trial: It
was very hard and it expanded till it covered all his wealth, sons,
daughters, friends and his wife. It lasted for a time but ended
into good and better. Our teacher the Apostle James said,
"Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of
the perseverance of Job and seen the purpose of the Lord."
(James 5:11). "Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job
more than his beginning...after this Job lived one hundred and
forty years, and saw his children and grand children for four
generations" (Job 42:12-16).
Job profited spiritual benefits from his trial, which deserved
thanksgiving. He profited many good things in his life. Also, in
the previous stories how great are the benefits Mordecai, or
Joseph and his brothers received, and which were not obtainable
except through trial and affliction. But, by faith and patience
we see the purposes of God and receive all the good and the
To be able to live the life of thanksgiving in its depth, you need
to live the life of humility and broken heart.
The humble person feels he does not deserve anything.
Therefore he gives thanks for everything. Whatever he is given
from God - no matter how little - he thanks for it and rejoices in
it, feeling in his depth that he does not deserve it.
On the contrary, the proud thinks he deserves many more than
he has, then he murmurs against what he got. If he obtained a
senior position - perhaps he gives no thanks - because he
believes he is worthy of a bigger position. If someone praised
him, he might presume that such praise is not to his level. But,
the humble feels shy of any word of praise because he
The humble not only feels he does not deserve any good, but he
sees that he deserves more punishment and rebukes from God.
Therefore, if any calamities befall him, he says I deserve more
because of my sins, and gives thanks saying, it is from God to
punish me with less of what I deserve . It is good for me to be
punished here on earth instead of the eternal punishment .
For example : If a criminal committed murder and was
sentenced - due to psychological circumstances - to hard labour.
Such criminal, when he hears the verdict, he gives thanks to
God, because he knows for sure that he deserves capital
punishment and the judge treated him mercifully.
So, the humble always sees his punishments are less than what
he deserves . Whenever he suffers any difficulty or affection,
he says, "I thank you Lord because you are very kind. Oh,
what a compassion! Indeed your hand is on me not your
Some may object and say, "What if he was given an unbearable
punishment ?! like a painful disease which he cannot bear.
How can he give thanks to God in his suffering ?!"
We say that the pains on earth, even if they are limited and
temporary, and they are better than the eternal anguish in its
severity and permanence. Nevertheless, even with such diseases
God gives endurance and patience.
The Perfect Objective
Very often, some have worldly or materially objectives, and
becomes sad if they are not reached, and cannot thank God
amidst his adherence to these objectives.
But, the spiritual person has only one objective : God.
Therefore, it does not worry him if the world prospered or
elapsed. He takes no interest in its vanishing objects, and does
not feel sorry for missing its pleasures. In his content with God,
he feels great happiness for which he gives thanks to God. He
might be deprived of many things which others enjoy,
nevertheless, he is satisfied, thankful and pleased with his life
Here, we say that the life of asceticism leads to the life of
thanksgiving. Or, you can say that God's love -which brings to
the forsake of the world- leads to the life of thanksgiving.
Our fathers the monks and ascetics lived without having
anything in the world, yet they live in joy and thanksgiving. By
the same token, we see the Apostle St. Paul says about himself
and his helpers in the service :"As poor, yet making many rich;
as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6:10)
The world sees us as if we have nothing and poor, yet we
possess everything, because God Who is with us; He is all-in-
all, everything to us. We seem, before people, "as sorrowful, yet
Thus, the life of thanksgiving requires values and spiritual
measures, without which no one can reach the true thanksgiving
or the complete spiritual joy.
If you find that joy do not give thanks, return to your measures
to correct. Perhaps your opinion about happiness is not right.
There are other virtues connected with thanksgiving -discussed
before- as joy, peace, inner consolation amid difficulties, and
also the outer consolation and the life of submission to God.
GIVE THANKS ?
One of the important reasons for not giving thanks, is
the fact that we do not know what is good for us .
We may think that the matter is evil and therefore we do not
give thanks, and it appears to be real good, or the means that
leads to it, but we do not know!
In this respect, we will try to display many examples from the
Bible, and some from history, to prove this fact.
Believe me it is only God -with His vast wisdom- who knows
what is good for us . But our humanly wisdom is short and
limited, and cannot see what is ahead.
An example of that is the imprisonment of the upright Joseph :
who would believe that unjustly throwing Joseph into prison
and selling him as a slave before that, all this will turn into his
good and the good of his brothers and father, the good of all
Egypt and the surrounding countries! If his brothers did not sell
him, he could have remained a shepherd near the home of his
father, and all this good could not have happened to him! Also,
if the wife of Potiphar did not accuse him, he could have stayed
as a slave in the house of Potiphar and not a father to Pharaoh!
Perhaps the upright Joseph did not give thanks when he was
sold as a slave, and when he was unjustly accused and thrown
into prison but, undoubtedly, he gave thanks lately and knew
that "...God meant it for good .... to save many people alive."
(Gen. 50 : 20)
Another example is the flight of the virgin Mary and the child
into Egypt. Was the flight from the sword and might of Herod
thank worthy? We must thank God because with this flight the
land of Egypt was blessed, and the places where Jesus and the
Virgin walked, became sacred and later churches were built on
We do not know what the future holds but we know one thing;
that the future is in the hands of God. We thank God because
He put the whole future in His hands to manage with His good
will and makes good to His children. We therefore, have
confidence in all what comes from God's hand filled with love.
Truly the big heart rejoices in everything and gives thanks for
everything, and never be annoyed of anything no matter what.
He has the strainer of faith in which He puts everything and
By faith, he sees the hand of God in all the incidents he faces, so
he is comforted with the work of God; he rejoices and gives
St. Angustinos says about these who severely fought the faith
and caused many problems to the church, "we thank the heretics
for the doubts they caused about the Bible which made us
search more, in depth, and discover treasures which were not
known to us before."
In the some logic, we talk about the pagan philosophy which
resisted Christianity; especially at its early days. This
resistance was a blessing for which we give thanks to God .
Because of it, the first school of Alexandria was established,
with all the spiritual and written knowledge it presented to the
world, the sciences of theology and Christian philosophy which
served the faith. We thankfully open our hearts to the work of
God, because He makes everything reverts to the glory of His
Name. We rejoice at His hand which holds the history and
Another example: the blood of the martyrs: was it good for
which we give thanks? Yes, because we say the blood of the
martyrs was the seeds of faith, which spread more, as a result of
what the people saw and heard of the miracles happened during
their martyrdom, and how they were facing death with great
St. Augustinos of Antioch kindly blamed the people of Rome,
for their attempt to rescue him from throwing to the hungry
He sent them a well-known message in which he said,
"brethren, I fear your love causes me harm when I reached the
end of the line, and you want me to run the course of my life
over again." Then he left himself to the lions to prey upon in
seconds. It was a wonderful lesson for the generations to
remember and give thanks to him. After his martyrdom, he
appeared to his prison-mates to encourage and strengthen them.
So, his martyrdom was a blessing. Do we cry over who died a
martyr?! No, But we rejoice because he received the crowns,
and thank God who helped him and say to him this phrase
known in the funeral prayers "God help us as He helped you."
In the same way, we speak about the confessors and those
scattered by persecution for their faith, and remember what was
said in The Acts of the Apostles:"Those who were scattered
went everywhere preaching the word". (Acts 8:4)
Their scattering was among the pains which the church suffered,
but, in the meantime, it was a blessing because they were flames
of fire and when they moved to other countries of the world,
they set it ablaze, and faith spread by their scattering. Isn't this
something we thank God for.
There is something which is good in itself, and another thing
which is good in its results and we give thanks in the two cases.
Both are for the good.
God is able to change persecution into good, scattering into
preaching and faith, and many churches established everywhere.
We thank Him for that, and offer our complete submission to
His Holy will filled with good.
Our problem for not giving thanks is because we do not
look ahead. But we only look under our feet, to the mere
actual living without looking far, to what will happen later and
we never look at the objective of God from this matter which is
tiring us, I mean his cheering objective to us. I give you these
The birth of a blind person: Was it good for which we give
Even the disciples thought it was punishment, and they
ignorantly said, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" affected
by wrong thoughts which were transferred from the pagan
world but Lord Jesus put before them the divine planning
which deserves every thanksgiving, so He said to them, `Neither
this man nor his parents sinned, but the works of God should
be revealed in him." (John 9:3)
Had it not been for his blindness from birth, this great miracle
could not have happened to him, which resulted in his belief in
God, worshipping and defending Him and he had two open
spiritual eyes which see the unseen. And so, he entered history
and the works of God were revealed in him, and were the cause
for many to believe. This is something for which we thank
Yet, unfortunately we do not give thanks unless after we see the
But faith gives the confidence that there must be a certain good
whether we see it or not and "Blessed are those who have not
seen and yet have believed. " (John 20:29)... and "Now faith is
the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen." (Heb. 11:1)
Another example is the death of Lazarus, the brother of Mary
Was the sickness and death of Lazarus a matter that deserves
It was obvious Mary wept, and also the Jews who came with
her, and she said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my
brother would not died." (John 11:32). Martha said the same
phrase to the Lord (John 11:21). Yet , all this was "... for the
glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
If people knew what the Lord will do after the death of
Lazarus, they should have given thanks for the sickness and
death of Lazarus, to reveal the glory of God.
Faith was much spread by raising Lazarus four days after his
death (John 11:45). No doubt this is a matter that deserves
thanksgiving. But people would not have given thanks when
Lazarus became sick and died! Why? Because our human
vision is limited it can only go to the grave where they buried
Lazarus and stand outside weeping! While faith goes forward
four days after that, to see Lazarus coming out bound hand and
foot with grave clothes! and see the glory of God and faith of
people, then give thanks.
Another example: The famine in Egypt during Joseph's time:
There is no one who gives thanks when famine occurs!
However, this famine was for the good. It revealed the
righteousness and wisdom of Joseph. It presented to us dreams
and visions from God, even to Pharaoh. This famine was a
blessing and good and because of it, Joseph met his father and
brothers and made peace with them, and maintained them in
the land of Goshen. It was a chance for his two sons to receive
the blessing of his father Jacob. Are not all these reasons for
which we give thanks to God?! As for the famine, God has
arranged its solution it was preceded by seven plentiful years,
during which food and grain were stored for the years of
famine. This is also a divine arrangement which deserves
thanksgiving and all things work together for good.
Let us look at the suspicions hovered about Pope Demetrius,
It was a bad thing in itself, but these same suspicions were the
cause of revealing the holiness of this great Pope, and showed
the people his righteousness, chastity and virginity. It was also
an occasion in which the hand of God interfered miraculously.
The church celebrates this day in the Synixarium on the 12th of
Undoubtedly, all the congregation gave thanks to God, as well
as Pope Demetrius and his wife, the suspicions were turned into
glorification and the day of passion changed into a feast-day.
On this occasion, we talk about the troubles of David the
Who can believe that the troubles of David the Prophet- with
Saul or Absalom or others- will lead to these beautiful Psalms
which comfort us all?! In time of distress, David used to sing
his troubles on a ten-stringed harp and flute. He left us this
great treasure of songs. Don't we thank God for all this? He
also, in all his distresses used to give thanks and say, "I will
bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in
my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. Oh,
magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together."
He also says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within
me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and
forget not all his benefits." (Ps. 103:1-2). In all his distresses,
he praises the Lord with a new song.
Another two lessons from the life of Moses the Prophet:
Who can believe that putting the child in a basket and laying it
in the reeds by the river's bank for fear of his killing (Ex 2:3) all
this result in glory, and this child became the adopted son of
Pharaoh's daughter and grew up in a palace! Isn't that a lesson
of God's care for which we give thanks.
Who can believe that the flight of Moses to the wilderness
fearing of Pharaoh, will lead to his becoming a shepherd, and
later the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst
of a bush, and called him to His service. He became one of the
great prophets and leader of people. These are matters which
remind us of the saying in the Bible. "The end of a thing is
better than its beginning." (Eccl 7:8)
Therefore, the difficult beginnings do not disturb us, but we
look how God end these matters; we will find them happy
endings for which we give thanks. A good example for this in
the bible is Haman's conspiracy.
Haman was proud and not happy with Mordacai, because he did
not bow or pay him homage. He plotted to hang Mordecai and
destroy his people. It is a disturbing beginning, but let us wait a
little to see how it ended. Under the command of Esther, all the
people fast and it was a spiritual period where they came closer
to God , Who interfered and saved them. They hanged Haman
on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai who was
honoured by the King.
The situation has changed completely from the gallows to glory.
Blessed is the Lord in all what He does. Blessed is His hand
that interferes and leads the ship to the route He chooses by His
blessed good will.
Another lesson from the trial of the slaying of Isaac:
No doubt it was a bad experience for our father Abraham to
offer his only son, whom he loves, as a burnt offering (Gen
22:2). But it was for the good because it showed the obedience
of Abraham and also revealed his faith and righteousness. "By
faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac...
accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the
dead." (Heb 11:17-19). And "Was not Abraham our father
justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the alter?"
"Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for
righteousness." (James 2:21-23). By this test our father
Abraham received the blessing of the Lord who said to him, "In
blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your
descendants... in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be
blessed." (Gen 22:17-18). In this test, the Lord gave us a good
example of obedience and faith for which we thank Him.
So, the test was a blessing for Abraham, his descendants and for
It was a lesson and example for all generations on earth, either
with regard to Abraham or to his son Isaac who became a
symbol for Lord Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father
(John 3:16) and became obedient to the point of death, even the
death of the cross. (Phil 2:8)
An example for thanksgiving: The imprisonment of Paul the
Does anyone give thanks on his imprisonment? Yes. A faithful
person gives thanks on everything. Paul and Silas were beaten,
put into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
However, they were praying and singing hymns to God, and the
prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:23-25).
Their imprisonment was a blessing by which the Philippian jailer
was saved. And immediately, he and all his family were
baptised. He rejoiced, having believed in God with all his
household (Acts 16:33-34). Very often, while St Paul the
Apostle was in prison, he found a quiet time in which he wrote
some of his Epistles.
3. From the reasons which keep us from giving thanks, the
lack of remembering the benefits of the Lord towards us, either
in general or in the private life of each of us. Our fault is that
we forget and do not remember. David the Prophet reminds
himself and says in his Psalm "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and
all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord O my
soul, and forget not all His benefits:" (Ps 103:1-2). He
continued to remember it one by one. I advise you to read and
memorise this Psalm, so it would be a motive for us to
remember His good deeds towards us.
In 1974, the cholera was epidemic and thousands lost their
lives. Many cities were out of bounds for fear of infection.
Once I visited one of these closed cities- after obtaining a
special permit and, of course, after being vaccinated. It was a
grieved and gloomy city, no one laughs or smiles, no voice of
radio or songs. Many were praying and making vows to God,
"If you saved me.. I do so and so". God saved us from the
cholera and lived till to date. Who gives thanks to God for this
saving and all the other savings from epidemic diseases and
Many are those who forgot the good deeds of God towards us,
and also forgot their promises and vows!
Would we sit everyday to ourselves and remember Gods
benefits towards us, our families, friends and acquaintances, and
keep this in our memories or diaries and give thanks to God.
The people in the wilderness kept an omen of manna, to
remember the benefits of the Lord (Ex 16:32-34). They laid
stones in the midst of the Jordan, to remember the crossing and
when the waters of the Jordan were cut off (Josh 4:4-8).
When we forget the good deeds of God , our thanksgiving and
love diminishes . This is natural. Because whenever you
remember a favour done to you by someone, you love him.
But, if you forgot, you lose a cause which drives you to love
How many employees forgot that God helped them to get a
How many wives forgot that God helped them in finding a
How many persons forgot that God helped them in solving a
problem, or finding a way out of a critical situation?
Sometimes we do not give thanks because we attribute
the good we received, not to God, but to our personal abilities,
or to those who helped us! or to the surrounding circumstances
In all this, we forget that our abilities are gifts from God. Also,
those who helped us, God has talked into their hearts for us.
And the surrounding circumstances, we cannot separate from
the Divine planning.
We also do not give thanks, because we remember
transgressions more than good deeds!
When we clear up our accounts, all the white points, deserving
thanksgiving, disappear, but afflictions and troubles stay before
us. There is a kind of people- unfortunately- does not
remember except the black spots in their life, and therefore, not
only loses thanksgiving, but depression and sadness overcome
them, contrary to those who live in joy and hope remembering
the good, grace and blessing of God, all the time, and give
Lack of thanksgiving may be because of lack of
A content person always gives thanks whatever he has is little,
but the uncontent- whatever the Lord gives him- is never
satisfied, and does not give thanks! He always needs more and
therefore he gives no thanks!
Ambition of a person could change to greediness and this
causes him to lose thanksgiving!
There is a fine line that separates between these matters which
man must know and take precaution. A student may pass with
distinction at 90%, but he becomes sad because he wanted to
get at least 95%, or to become first or among the top five.
Supposedly, he has to be glad and thankful because he passed
with distinction. There is no objection to become more
ambitious, but not at the expense of joy and thanksgiving.
A person may lose the life of thanksgiving because of his
being accustomed to grumble:
For some, grumbling could change to psychiatric disease. He
always grumbles, protests and complains, nothing appeals to
him, nothing pleases him and consequently, of course, he gives
no thanksgiving it is a spiritual, psychological and social disease
which requires treatment.
Contrary to that who gets used to thanksgiving until it becomes
a character in him. He thanks the Lord and the people and
gives thanks for everything.
Also, a person may lose thanksgiving for other spiritual
and psychological diseases, other than grumbling, greediness
and love of abundance and the greater portion diseases like
disturbance, despair, depression, unrest, fear of the future, fear
in general and some other complexes.
Whoever suffers from such diseases, it is difficult for him to
give thanks because he is always concerned and confused. If
you call him to the life of thanksgiving, he says to you in
wonder and annoyance, "For what do I give thanks?! Isn't it
enough what I am in?!" Such person needs treatment.
Lack of thanksgiving troubles the soul, and the trouble of the
soul takes away thanksgiving.
A thankful person does not need tranquillisers but his peaceful
heart is a substitute for these but the unthankful is always
troubled, and this in turn keeps him away from giving thanks.
Many do not give thanks because they are content with
They receive a good thing that makes them happy; and they
stop at this point. They do not think who sent them this good
thing to thank him! Unfortunately, they are centred around
themselves and their requirements. Their interest is to have
these requisites, but who makes it for them, they do not think
about it!! Isn't that a kind of selfishness?. But you, do not
centralise around yourself and when you receive a good thing,
look at its source and give thanks to it. Do not be like the ten
lepers who were healed and did not return to give thanks (Luke
17:12-18). Do not look only at the gift without looking at the
Among the important things in our perception of good
and evil- and its consequences either thanksgiving or grumbling-
our inner desires and valuation of matters.
St John Chrysostom wrote a good article titled "No one can
harm a person, unless he brought harm upon himself." In fact,
without understanding this issue , we cannot get rid of the
effects of the inconveniences of others to us, which make us
lose the life of thanksgiving and drop us in psychological
Truly, what can a person- or even a devil- do to harm you?
If you are a saintly and righteous person who loves God, you
have only one goal, ie. to be attached to God. No one can hurt
you for this reason . And as the Apostle said, "Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
sword?.. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor
things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created
thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which
is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:35-39). Therefore, if you
make your goal in life, the love of God, nothing will separate
you from this goal and will live happily.
But, if you make to yourself other goals, and desires these are
the ones to harm you.
Your heart, from the inside- which loves these desires- is the
one harming you not the people.
Someone may be able to take money from you, if you do not
love money and do not care if it is abundant or little, no harm
will happen to you.
Someone may be able to put you in prison; if you only care
about the freedom of your mind, thought and soul in your
relation with God, and do not care about the place where you
live, or your earthly status, then you will not feel any harm. St
Paul was in the inner prison and was singing hymns joyfully.
What can people do to you? Would they kill you? Does this
harm you in anyway if your goal is to live with Christ. St Paul
the Apostle says, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is
gain... having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is
far better." (Phil 1:21-23). The martyrs were tortured and
killed; they never felt they suffered any harm, but on the
contrary they received crowns. They were thanking Him in
their sufferings which led them to God and glory.
The only harm that saddens you is your separation from God.
It is not the tribulations or distresses, which could result in
receiving crowns, if you bear them with thanksgiving. For this,
the Apostle said, "Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's
sake."(2 Cor 12:10)
Of your biggest problems in the life of thanksgiving is
holding to your personal thinking rather than the Divine
We would like to arrange our affairs with our human thinking,
and according to our own methods. God might have another
plan which we do not understand , so we become angry and do
not give thanks! For example: if our demands are not met we
are angry. Sometimes we go up a step, and do not get angry,
but at the same time we do not give thanks.
There is a difference between a thankful person, and another
who is quiet and enduring.
Our endurance means that there is distress which we do not
grumble about, but we bear in patience. While our thanksgiving
means our confidence that this incident is good, for which we
give thanks to God. Here, we are moved from seeing to
believing and by faith we see good in all what God does to us,
not relying on human judgments which decide on the outside.
If the Divine inspiration says, "Therefore, to him who knows to
do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17).
More truly that God does good because He is able to do so.
Of necessity, I must believe that God does good with me,
because by nature He is beneficent and actually He does so.
If my condition was bad, it could have been worse without
God's grace, but thank God He did not abandon me. Probably,
my bad state is a result of my faults and I must blame myself.
As for God, I have to thank Him because He is not angry with
me for my faults, and by all means He will help me to come out
Then, I must have confidence in God's wisdom and planning
and do not rely on my human thinking and limited
understanding. In all what happens to me I should say: There
must be a divine wisdom behind this affair which will be
revealed in time, and whether God revealed it or not, His
wisdom exists and we thank Him for it. "Blessed are those who
have not seen and yet have believed."(John 20:29).
This belief in the wisdom of God leads us to the life of
submission, and the life of submission entirely agree with the life
In this life, I say to the Lord: I thank you Lord because if you
have found me a better position than my present one, You could
have transferred me to it. Or, if I deserve more, You could
have given me. Truly, You are always giving me more than I
deserve. Enough for me to believe in Your wisdom and love, in
disposing my life and this deserves thanksgiving.
Sometimes, we do not give thanks because we forget
If we remembered our sins we ought to thank God as "He has
not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us
according to our iniquities." (Ps 103:10). But, even if we
received a punishment, we have to give thanks, because we
suffer here on earth instead of having everlasting punishment in
the other life, like poor Lazarus who in his lifetime received evil
things. (Luke 16:25)
If we realized the weight of our sins, we ought to give thanks
even in the painful sufferings, feeling that they are much less
than we deserve, and they were allowed by God, to lead us to
And, we do not give thanks- especially in sufferings-
because we did not yet realize the blessing of suffering and its
Suffering is a gift that deserves thanksgiving and as the Apostle
said "For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not
only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Phil
1:29). Then, it is a gift with glory too, and it is said, "... if
indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified
together."(Rom 8:17). As long as suffering is a way to glory, it
Therefore, God did not stop suffering from his friends:
St Paul the Apostle laboured more abundantly than all the
others in preaching and teaching (1 Cor 15:10), nevertheless, he
received persecutions and sufferings more than they all as he
explained in (2 Cor 11:23) "...I am more: in labours more
abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more
frequently, in deaths often", and God did not keep away all
these sufferings from him. But said, when he was chosen to the
ministry and apostleship, "For I will show him how many things
he must suffer for my name's sake." (Acts 9:16).
What we say about St Paul the Apostle, also applies to St
Athanasius, pillar of faith, who was exiled four times and many
accusations and conspiracies were plotted against him. He was
told, "The whole world is against you", but God allowed all this
to happen, because in suffering there is glory and it has crowns,
also it is an expression of love.
The virgin St Mary herself endured many sufferings, and she is
the holiest person on earth.
If you endure afflictions for God's sake, thank Him from your
depth, because you were counted worthy to suffer shame for
His Name (Acts 5:41). Thank Him because he directed you to
the narrow gate which leads to the Kingdom and life ( Matt
Finally, I say that we sometimes do not give thanks
because we consider the good we are in, is something normal
which does not need thanksgiving!
You have many good things for which you do not give thanks,
like health and shelter, as you count them normal, but those
who are deprived of them, know its value, and if they receive
them, surely they will thank God for them. Let me give you and
an example: Perhaps you do not give thanks now for the lights
we have during our lecture, but if, for any reason the current is
cut off, then you realise the grace you were in.
There are many normal matters in our life which need
- BACK TO THE MAIN MENU
- THE LIFE OF THANKSGIVING
- The Story of This Book
- CHAPTER ONE
- CHAPTER TWO
- CHAPTER THREE
- VIRTUES RELATING TO THANKSGIVING
- CHAPTER FOUR