November 25, 2009
Thank You Power
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
In my (part-time) job as a university teacher, I'm frequently reading research. I know … it sounds as dry as an over-cooked turkey. Sometimes it is but often I find interesting stuff in that scientific prose. For example, I read about a study that showed just how great it is to be grateful.
The researchers found that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, more satisfaction with life, and more vitality and optimism. All good qualities I want more of in my life. They also found grateful people show lower levels of depression and stress - two things I'd like to experience less in my life.
What's more, they found that people who write weekly in a journal about things they are thankful for are healthier. They exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, and feel better in general than people who journal about neutral or negative life events. That sounds great, and I'll take all the help I can get in the exercise department.
Finally, the research showed that people who daily count their blessings report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and energy. Wow, the benefits of being grateful are remarkable and many! I guess that shouldn't surprise me after considering today's key verse. The Bible urges us to give thanks … all the time … in every situation … because this practice is the will of God.
Let me be clear, there are terrible things that happen to us that may not be the will of God, but us praising God and giving thanks in spite of them certainly is the will of God.
As Christians, we can always find reason to give thanks - thanks for the salvation of Christ, the nearness of God, and the counsel of His Spirit for starters. The psalmist declared, "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High" (Psalm 7:17, NIV). We can do that too.
Christian poet John Milton once wrote about every grey cloud having a silver lining. Purposing to give thanks, no matter the weather, will train us to look for it. Continuing in this manner day after day ensures that gratefulness will become a normal mode of operation.
No wonder those researchers found that people regularly counting their blessings grow happier, healthier, and more optimistic. After all, that research wasn't discovering anything new, but rather confirming the will and wisdom of God. God already knows how great it is for us to be grateful. Now "science" does too.
What can you give thanks for today?
Dear Lord, thank You for this day. Thank You for Your Son and Your Spirit, given to me. Thank You for the provision of shelter and food I have today. And Lord, thank You for this reminder to become more mindful of my blessings. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Jesus Calling: A 365-Day Journaling Devotion by Sarah Young
Visit Rachel's blog - My Life in Chapter and Verse for more on this topic
Click here for refreshing ideas on giving thanks
The Tale of Three Trees (hard cover or chubby) retold by Angela Elwell Hunt
Start a gratitude journal. At the end of each day between now and Christmas, take a few minutes to jot down 3-5 things you are thankful for. Keep the notebook and pencil by your bed. Your list can include "big" things like good health, or "little" things like a flower in bloom. Give thanks to God for all of these.
See if you feel any happier, healthier, or more optimistic after a few weeks of regularly giving thanks.
How often do I give thanks to God?
Do I notice, or remember, the little blessings in my days?
Do I want to feel happier, be healthier, and think more optimistically? More importantly, do I want to do the will of God?
Psalm 118:19, "Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD." (NIV)
Psalm 107:22, "Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy." (NIV)
© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105