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Radical Gratitude: Overcoming Uncertainty with Thanksgiving

For a few years now, Biblica has been animated by a concept that we call “radical generosity.” What happens when we seek to mirror the radical generosity of our God by giving away everything we possibly can? One expression of this is freely releasing global Bible translations under Creative Commons licensing — so that users have full permission to use our Bible translations for personal use, ministry distribution, and even creating new Bible translations.

Recently, a new (but related) phrase has been on our hearts: “radical gratitude.” What happens when we intentionally open our hearts in deep thanks, recognizing the overwhelming generosity of those who pray regularly for our work, invest financially in our projects, and give the best of their talents and gifts to this mission? Most of all, what happens when we pour out grateful praise to God for the incomprehensible gift of eternal life?

One dramatic story from Scripture shows us God’s heart to respond to the sort of faith and radical gratitude we are seeking to stir up.

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat heard a report of an enormous three-nation army coming to attack Jerusalem from the south. He called all of Judah to fast together and pray to God. The next day, people from every town gathered at the temple while the king prayed aloud. He uttered one of the greatest lines in faith history:

“We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Then the king made two of the most dubious decisions in military strategy history:

“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army.”

But let’s not get confused between human strategy and the power of our Creator. Catch the words that are recorded as the people sang praise to God:

Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

Variations of this song of thanksgiving show up in Chronicles and Psalms. It echoes throughout Scripture, emphasizing how God keeps His covenant with His people.

And so, the people sang.

How did God respond to this radical trust and gratitude? He set ambushes for the invading armies so that, in their confusion, they were fighting with each other. By the time Judah’s singing army reached the appointed lookout, their enemies were defeated. The story matter-of-factly states that Jehoshaphat and his men went to gather the plunder, apparently not surprised by what just happened. There was so much treasure that they needed three whole days to gather it all.

So, what’s the lesson for us?

This story presents us with individuals who walked in such radical gratitude that when the king asked them what to do about an enormous enemy army, they offered the only advice that made sense to them:

Worship God. Praise Him. Thank Him for His love.

It might not be wise for us to expect mountains of treasure just because we sing songs to God. But our God’s love endures forever, and He will provide exactly what’s needed at the exact moment that it’s needed.

So, in those scary moments in life when we feel vulnerable, needy, and alone, perhaps the very best strategy is to adopt a posture of radical gratitude — reflecting on God’s steadfast love and praising Him yet again for all He has done for us. Easier said than done, I know! But we know that this heart of faith and gratitude can move mountains, part seas, and conquer armies.

How might radical gratitude transform hearts and lives in our day?