I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
Happiness doubled by wonder. Thanks as the highest form of thought. What does Chesterton mean? How does this kind of happiness and wonder originate, and does it really lead to prevailing and ever-increasing thoughts of gratitude? What about when unhappy circumstances weigh heavily — could this sort of gratitude still bubble up from within and flow out in the highest form of thought, which is thanks?
Yes. It could.
For no matter the present situation, we who know the Lord have a never-failing reason for wonder-filled gratitude. The follower of Jesus owns surety which, when turned to and clung to, can steady any pained heart and superimpose its truth over any hardship. Here’s the surety:
We are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken by any earthly anything.
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. (Hebrews 12:28)
God reminds us through Hebrews 12:28 that the happiness-doubled-by-wonder sort of gratitude begins with a mindset that knows we deserve nothing. With holy reverence and awe, we’re amazed by our Lord’s gift of eternal life. We’re awed that He chose undeserving us, and so our happiness is exponentially increased by the wonder we feel at His choice of us.
When we stop and think on these things, we’re just plain happy. Our happiness is doubled by our wonder at His gift — we can hardly believe it could be true! The Holy Spirit prompts us to move from low thoughts (of self-pity, or self-praise, or self-absorption) to thoughts of the highest form: thoughts of thanks.
Overflowing gratitude at His unfailing love bubbles up from within, and we worship with deepest awe. (Psalm 5:7) So much so that, even when we find our heart weighted down, and weary, and floundering in the mire of a present earthly circumstance, we still yearn to thank Him. We want to:
“Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.” (I Samuel 12:24)
When we stop and remember that He picked us out, adopting us into His unshakeable Kingdom, our thoughts turn to worshipful thanks. When we think of all the wonderful things He has done for us — even if living through current painful circumstances — we can rest in His presence.
When we rest in His presence, granted hope through His word, abiding happiness forms within our heart. That happiness is magnified by wonder-filled thoughts, and grateful thanks overflows.
And when grateful thanks, the highest form of thought, spills out from our lips, we more become the being we were created, and are being re-created, to be.
O Christian, today, marvel at the grace He’s given undeserving you. Today, wonder at His choice of you to be a part of His unshakeable kingdom.
And as happiness wells up within, give grateful thanks.