Thanksgiving is just a few days away, which always turns our hearts towards gratitude. There are a plethora of verses in the Bible encouraging us to be thankful.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving THANKS to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NIV)
Enter his gates with THANKSGIVING; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks
to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4 NLT)
There are more, but I think you get the idea. Have you ever given someone a gift only to have them never speak any words of gratefulness to you? It doesn’t exactly make you want to rush out and get them another gift, does it? And doesn’t it make your heart a little happier when someone thanks you for say, making a meal for them, or coming to their aid in a trying time? Just like we train our children to say thank you after opening a present, God, in his word is asking us to do the same.
And here’s the deal, it’s physically good for us. I love it when research catches up with what’s already been in the Bible for a few thousand years. Being grateful makes us more likeable. Of course, likeable people have more friends and it follows that having more friends makes you a happier person. (Thus, logic would suggest that gratefulness makes you happier.) Gratefulness also makes us healthier (lowers our systolic blood pressure, improves our sleep, increases our energy, decreases our pain, and fights off depression.) And, double bonus, gratitude makes you friendlier and helps you look better. (Friendly people always look more appealing than unfriendly people don’t you think?)
When John was diagnosed with cancer four years ago we were both struggling with a bit of depression (which I assume is pretty normal under the circumstances). Even back then, I’d heard that writing down just three things a day that we are grateful for would help us be happier. So we pulled out our journals and each night we found three things we could thank God for. And, as the research promises, it helped. But, eventually (due, obviously to some crazy kind of stupid) we let our gratitude journals get buried under a pile of stuff and we haven’t pulled them out in awhile. I think this would be a good time to restart that habit. As I like to say, “Can’t hurt. Might help.”
I pray as you prepare for Thanksgiving you’ll take some time to write down just a few of the things you’re grateful for and keep that list going long after the leftovers have all been consumed. Need some help getting started? Here are just a few things on my list:
- Electricity – It’s freezing here today and I’m so happy I don’t have to be continually stoking a fire to keep my house warm.
- Running Water – I’ve been to countries where the women have to walk several miles to get water and carry it home on their heads. Did you know water weighs 8.3 pounds PER GALLON? Yikes! That’s some heavy lifting.
- A Warm Home – I never want to take for granted how fortunate I am to be able to live in a beautiful home on the edge of the woods.
- Being able to walk along the river every day – If you have to exercise, having a beautiful location to do so sure helps.
- My Mom – To be able to still have my mom at age 62 is a blessing. She’s had two knees replaced, conquered breast cancer, recovered from a heart attack, and from a couple of falls. She played golf until she was in her late 80’s, still plays mahjong and bridge (and wins a fair amount of the time.) She’s pretty amazing.
- My husband – He went through a lot to kick cancer in the butt and I’m so grateful he’s doing well today.
- That all of our children (including our daughter-in-laws) love the Lord – What a blessing!
- My grandkids – It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) they are the best! They add so much joy to my life. I love spending time with them.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the
heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)