Day 8: ”Gratitude"
Last Thanksgiving, Forbes published an article titled “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round” that revealed such facts as:
- Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people.
- Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.
- Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep.
That’s pretty good news, and motivation, for Christians, given the Bible’s numerous expressions of and exhortations to gratitude. In the Psalms alone, we see David and others giving thanks to God for everything from Earth’s bounty (Psalm 66) to God’s work in creation and history (Psalm 136), from the blessing of the righteous (Psalm 113) to being in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).
Hold on. Is that last one a misprint?
No, it’s not. It’s an example of the 360-degree scope of biblical gratitude: No matter our circumstances, we are called by God to be grateful.
That’s because while we are in this world we are not of it. Its economy is not God’s. We will experience trials and tragedies. We will know sorrow and anxiety. We will be beset by fear and doubt. But none of those feelings, or the situations that fuel them, have more power over us than the power that is in us: the Spirit of God Himself.
Today let’s explore this truth: When we get right down to it, gratitude is not an emotion. It’s a choice. It’s a command.
So, God being a good God, why does He command us to be grateful? Sure, some of it has to do with those emotional and physical health benefits uncovered by Forbes – after all, God knew all those things before the scientists did their research. But the primary reason is for our spiritual health.
Gratitude, practiced regularly and robustly, draws us closer to God. And when we are closer to God, the Bible tells us, we grow in things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And if we just unpack the first one in that list – love -- the Bible tells us it additionally fills us with contentment, humility, righteousness, trust, truth, hope, regard for others and perseverance.
That’s a lot to be grateful for, isn’t it?
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
James 1:2 NLT
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
Romans 12:12 NLT
12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
This reading plan can be found at https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/1903-rescue-finding-god-in-lifes-challenges