When things get tough, it is good to know that we have someone we can go to for help—God himself. Observing that the wicked were perishing because of their unbelief, King David confidently said, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds” (Psalm 73:28). No one can shield us better from the storms of life than the Lord. He is our refuge and strength and our ever-present help in times of need. Yet, how often do we thank God for all that he has done in our lives? If indeed we are grateful, we should emulate King David, who said, “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High” (Psalm 7:17). Our life should be a life of praise, knowing that we owe it all to him.
When we approach God, we need to have the right attitude. In his epistle, the apostle Paul encouraged believers “to draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). Since nothing can be hidden before God, we have to be sincere; we cannot approach him will all kinds of pretensions and hypocrisy. We need to have full faith in him, devoid of guilt and having been born again and washed by the blood of Jesus. God is holy and we ought to come to him with clean hands and pure hearts. For this reason, King Solomon warned, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong” (Eccl. 5:1). The reason why we approach God is to seek his blessings, yet how else can we receive such blessings unless we incline our ears to listen to his instructions? To do otherwise is foolishness, because God knows the motive of our hearts.
The best attitude to have when we draw near to God is to offer our thanksgiving and praise. In Psalm 100, we are told, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Ps. 100:4). The Lord deserves our praise and it is fitting to always come before him with thanksgiving for his goodness. Though we have been blessed so much, we have not been thanking God enough. We take his blessings for granted, as if these just come naturally. There are even times when we have the attitude that God seems obligated to bless us. As a result, we complain and murmur when the blessings do not come the way we expect.
Another reason why we do not thank God when we come before him is pride. We believe that we are blessed because we deserve the blessings or we worked for them. Some even boast that they are blessed because they are just naturally good. To them the apostle Paul asked, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7). No one should boast that they have what they have because of their ability and power. The fact is that we have what we have because of the grace of God. Because of this tendency to boast, Moses reminded the Israelites, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” (Deut. 8:17-18).
One of the oft-repeated commands for us in the Bible is to live in the centre of God’s will. According to the apostle Paul, there is a good way to do this when he said, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:18). Indeed, we need to overflow with thanksgiving, especially when we draw near to God. We have to do this regardless of our situation, because He delights in the praises of his people. Let us not only offer our thanksgiving when he grants us our prayer requests, but even when he does not. He has a good reason for denying us our petitions and we must thank him for it. Yes, it is always good to be near God. Praise the Lord!