Because mature Christians have learned that all good things in this life come from God’s generous hand, they are usually careful to give thanks to him whenever they experience them. And so we should (James 1:17; Ephesians 5:20). But the Bible also calls us to learn to give thanks for the good things we’ve yet to receive – the ones we will experience in the next life! Colossians 1:12 says you ought to be “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints.”
The “inheritance” Paul has in mind is the unimaginable blessings and rewards that will be permanently lavished upon us when we enter into God’s presence (Ephesians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 2:9). This practice of thanking God ahead of time for the blessings we will receive in the next life has a way of producing a current surplus of endurance, patience and joy (Colossians 1:11-12). And that’s helpful, especially when the “good things” here and now are in short supply. Peter writes to a group of suffering and persecuted Christians about their extravagant “inheritance”, which is reserved in heaven for them (1 Peter 1:4). He then speaks of the transforming power of being thankful now for those future gifts, saying, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6).
So let us add to our spiritual disciplines the daily practice of expressing our thanks to God, not only for the good he supplies day by day, but also for the incomparable good he will bestow when we see him face to face.