Giving Thanks is Good for You

Cover of "Giving Thanks: The Gifts of Gra...

Cover of Giving Thanks: The Gifts of Gratitude

This is the time of year that we pause to give thanks.  It is one of my personal favorites of all holidays because we share with our families and friends one of life’s most precious commodities:  our time.  No presents, nothing but our time.  Of course, some great meals are thrown in there too.

Typically, we are reminded to give thanks by our pastors as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday.  It is a practice that Christians should engage in regularly.  It is good for our spiritual health.  A while back my pastor shared the account of a man who came to him for counseling a few years ago.  This man suffered under a load of troubles.  His marriage, his money, his mental health, all was in turmoil.  My pastor counseled him to turn his attention to something for which he could be thankful.  The man said he couldn’t do it.  The pastor took a piece of paper and led this man through a few ideas about things he could express thanks.  When finished, they had come up with about fifty things.

The next year the pastor met with this man.  Some time had passed and this man seemed transformed.  He said that of all the things he was counseled on, the one thing that helped him the most was making the list.  This man kept the list and referred to it regularly.  The focus on thankfulness transformed this man’s life.

I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal on the health benefits of saying thanks.  I quote, “A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.   Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.”

God knows this, so why don’t Christians listen?  Here’s what Scripture says:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  Christians ought to be the most thankful people on earth.  Christians should remind themselves that it is God’s will.  Christians should have the corner on the market of thankfulness.

Giving thanks honors the Lord.  It should not become a cliché.  It is an opportunity.  It is good for our health.  It is good for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

This is the one ingredient we do not want to leave out of our Thanksgiving recipes.  I encourage you today to pause, to thank God for all your blessings and hardships, and to tell others how thankful you are for them.  Thank you Lord for this opportunity to share something that I hope will transform someone’s life today.  Amen!

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