Every person is in need of God at every instant of life. From the air one breathes to the food he eats, from the ability to use one’s hands to the faculty of speech, from being sheltered to being in a joyful spirit, one lives completely in need of what God creates and grants him. Still, a vast majority of people do not perceive their weaknesses and that they are in need of God. They suppose that things develop spontaneously or that they acquire everything by their own efforts. This is an important error, as well as a serious ingratitude towards God. Ironically, people who render their thanks to a person for even an insignificant gift, spend all their lives ignoring the countless blessings that God gives them all through their lives. However, so great are the blessings granted to a person that one could never count them. God relates this fact in a verse as follows:
(If you tried to number God’s blessings, you could never count them. God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful) (Surat An-Nahl 16:18)**
Despite this fact, most people fail to give thanks for any of the blessings they have. The reason for this is related in the Qur’an: Satan, who pledged to misguide people from God’s way, said that his ultimate aim is to make people be ungrateful to God. Satan’s defiant statements to God emphasize the importance of giving thanks to God:
(’Then I will come at them, from in front of them behind them, from their right and from their left. You will not find most of them thankful.’ He (God) said, ‘Get out of it, reviled and driven out. As for those of them (mankind) who follow you, I, will fill up Hell with every one of you.’) (Surat Al-A`raf 7:17-18)
Believers, on the other hand, aware of their weaknesses and in humility before God, render their thanks to Him for every blessing granted. Wealth and possessions are not the only blessings for which believers render their thanks to God. Knowing that God is the Owner and Possessor of everything, believers express their inner gratefulness for good health, beauty, knowledge, wisdom, love of faith and hatred from disbelief, understanding, insight, foresight and for power. They are thankful for being rightly guided and for being in the company of believers. A beautiful landscape, easy handling of their affairs, fulfillment of their wishes, tidings of great joy, respectful conduct or any other blessings make believers immediately turn to God, express their gratefulness to Him and reflect on His mercy and compassion.
In return for good morals displayed, a reward awaits believers. This is another of the secrets revealed in the Qur’an; God increases His blessings on those who are grateful. For example, God grants even more health and power to those who render their thanks to God for the good health and strength they have. God bestows even more knowledge and property to those who are grateful for their knowledge or wealth. This is because they are sincere people who are contented with what God gives and are pleased with the blessings and who take God as their friend. God relates this secret in the Qur’an as follows:
(And when your Lord announced: “If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”) (Surat Ibrahim 14:7)
Being grateful is also a sign of one’s closeness to and love of God. People who give thanks have the insight and capability to perceive the beauties and blessings that God creates. God’s Messenger, peace be upon him, also referred to this when he said:
When God gives you property, the bliss of God’s blessing and offering must be reflected on you.
On the other hand, a disbelieving or ungrateful person will only see the imperfections and faults even in the most beautiful environment, and thus will be unhappy and discontented. Indeed, as a divine purpose in God’s creation, such people always come across with seemingly unfavorable events and unpleasant scenes. On the other hand, God displays more of His bounties and blessings to those who have a sincere and insightful outlook.
That God increases His blessings to those who are grateful is one of the secrets of the Qur’an. However, one needs to keep in mind that sincerity is a prerequisite for being grateful. No doubt, one’s way of showing his gratitude without turning sincerely to God and feeling the inner peace of God’s infinite mercy and compassion, which is solely intended to impress people, would be sheer insincerity. God knows what hearts harbor, and will bear witness to this insincerity. Those who have insincere inner intentions may conceal it from other people, but not from God. Such people may render their thanks with affected manners when there is no affliction, but at times of hardship, it is possible that they may readily lapse into ungratefulness.
It should be also noted that true believers remain grateful to God even under harshest conditions. Someone looking from outside may see the diminishing of some blessings believers enjoy. However, believers, who are able to perceive the good aspect of every event and situation, see goodness in this too.
For example, God states that He will test people with fear, hunger and loss of wealth or life. In such a situation, believers rejoice and feel grateful, hoping that God will reward them with the gifts of paradise in return for the steadfastness they displayed in this test. They know that God does not impose on anyone more than he can bear. The steadfastness and submission of such awareness lead them to patience and gratitude. Therefore, it is an obvious attribute of believers to show unwavering dedication and submission and God promises to expand His blessings on His grateful servants both in the life of this world and in the hereafter.