I had to think about that for a time. My answer to the question had been that sometimes thankful feelings follow giving thanks. Which is true—but I think my friend’s response hit a deeper chord in my heart.
There are times when, as a writer, I receive an especially hard critique from one of my “crit” partners. Saying “Thanks” sometimes involves swallowing my pride and admitting that maybe he or she was right. Same thing with God. It’s harder to say “Thanks” to Him when things are going rough…but when I do, the rewards can be huge.
Why is it so important to praise God when we don’t feel anything? I could say, “Because the Bible tells us to,” but it goes deeper than that. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone to church or Bible Study or whatever, feeling down and just not wanting to go. Inevitably—and I mean every single time—I come back home feeling deeply blessed and happy.
The harder the enemy tries to keep you from attending (other than being sick, maybe), the bigger the blessing when you do. I might begin praying or singing or listening with half a heart, but before the service has ended, I’m the one who is lifted up.
It’s a matter of humility--forgetting my selfish wants or resentments and focusing on God.
Try it yourself, and let me know what happens to you.