Heathdale flower 30th March 2023

Behind a Thank You

Often, the English phrase of "thank you" fails to capture the depths and nuance of our hearts. The Old Testament shows us another way of expressing thanksgiving and praise, and I hope it might encourage each of us to cultivate a habit of giving thanks to God for His goodness and blessings in daily life.

Heathdale flower

Have you ever found yourself speechless? You want to express what is in your heart and mind, but nothing more than a simple “ahh” or “thank you” rolls out of your mouth! It is moments like these I wish I was more eloquent.

I love watching lifestyle shows on TV, especially as you witness skilled people totally transform a house, a car, a building or even a garden. One of the early lifestyle shows that I enjoyed watching was a show called Backyard Blitz. A team of people come together and bless some deserving soul by giving their garden a total make-over.

Typically, the show concludes with an emotionally charged moment where the recipients of the blessing have the transformed yard revealed. More often than not, they are overwhelmed, tears would flow, and they simply repeat ‘thank you, thank you!” As I watched, I knew what their heart is trying to say but also knew that ‘thank you’ in itself seems so inadequate.

Linguistic experts tell us that the English language is one of the world’s most dynamic languages. New words and phrases are being developed daily; yet it can also be a very limited language that doesn’t serve us well. Take the words ‘thank you’ for instance. It is a single phrase that is meant to convey a myriad of moments. Whereas languages such as Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, and Mandarin have a number of different words for thank you that fit particular circumstances.

This understanding was brought home to me recently when I read that ‘one of the key elements of worship is the giving of thanks’ in Psalm 35. In this passage of the Bible, we get the sense of what King David, the author is saying, but the English translation somehow doesn’t fully convey it. The Message version tries to capture this sentiment when it reads:

“But let me run loose and free, celebrating GOD's great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, "GOD, there's no one like you.” (Psalm 35:10, The Message)

Biblical scholar Ronald Allen reminds us that the Hebrew language has no word that can be used to simply say ‘thank you’. In Old Testament times, thanks was expressed by telling other people how good a particular person had been to you. What is more, it was customary to praise people not to their face but in front of others. This is how we got the phrase ‘to sing one’s praises’.

Similarly, praise of God was a public declaration in which He was acclaimed for His mercy and love. Worship in Old Testament times was therefore a form of witness, because congregational praise of God’s greatness and grace spilled over into public testimony to Him before a listening world. In this way, the wider audience was invited to join the chorus of praise raised by the family of faith.

The pastor of a large church had the practice of encouraging everyone he met, whether they were a follower of Jesus or not, to give thanks to God! His reasoning was ‘I want people to think about God’s goodness to them over the past week. God has given them air to breath, water to drink, food to eat and so many other things.’ So, he encouraged people to count our blessings, realising they had been touched by God’s goodness.

As I reflected on the declaration of this pastor, it made me recall a practice that I have recently been trying to cultivate. Each day as I arrive at work, I give thanks to God for His goodness and His faithfulness to us as a community. To name a few things, I give thanks for the staff, the students, the parents, the facilities and the freedom to openly talk about Him in the classroom.

As you drop your kids off, or even as you wish them farewell as they walk out the door to catch the bus, I encourage you to thank God for the blessings He has poured out on the Heathdale community and let us praise Him as the Lord of our community.


Ross Grace
Executive Principal