There are some practical reasons to be thankful. According to coverage by Breaking Christian News, being “thankful” can give you:
• Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More joy, optimism and happiness
• Acting with more generosity and compassion
• Feeling less lonely and isolated
But when you are faced with very real problems of health, family problems, money problems, or just a general discouragement from a loss of Hope (or “change”), it takes an act of faith to be thankful when you don’t feel like it.
Thankfulness is not just a "glass half full" mental trick. It is a POWER that God promises will bring us into the very gates of God. It also releases self-proclaimed curses on our lives. But you have to BELEIVE it works, for it to do so.
I used to hate the idea of looking at the poverty stricken paralytic in a third world country just to be grateful for something. I even remember when I was an adventuresome young rebel wondering what was so special about “peace of mind” all the old people kept crowing about. I WANTED ADVENUTRE NOT PEACE! After years of trials (both self-inflicted and otherwise) I BEGGED for a few months of no drama and no turmoil, not realizing what a gift it really was. And what’s funny is that I could have had it ALL ALONG, had i learned simply not only be thankful for little things but also to speak them as words of gratitude.
“How are you doing, Jim?” (And then I’d list the 300 things that weren’t quite up to my idea of the perfect life.) Guess what – I ALWAYS was slightly miserable because I ALWAYS wanted “just a little bit more.”
15 All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].
Medical science proved long ago that FEELINGS follow both WORDS and ACTIONS. Depressed people became “un-depressed” when they exercised. Plants REALLY do respond to words of love and caring versus hatred …or simple indifference. Your words to yourself – and to God – are no different.
But what most of us do is let our WORDS and ACTIONS follow our feelings (or our pessimistic observations of our circumstances) rather than having a “glad heart” and finding the best we can in the situation.
The parable of the talents that Jesus gave provided a KEY. You remember a Master gave ten servants a “talent,” One person made a 1000% percent return (10 talents) and God gave them 10 CITIES over which to be in charge. Another traded 1 talent into 5 and also made the Master very happy. However, a “worthless servant” gave God back his original talent and then complained to God how worried he was that God would require more of him than he could provide. He was fearful and thought it would be safer just to return the original “talent” back.
The PolitiJim version of the bible explains God’s answer:
God: Because you SAID I was a “hard and cruel Master,” therefore I AM that to you. And the talent you gave back to me I’m going to give to the guy made 10 talents from 1.
Although the bible records the astonishment of the other servants that the “rich were getting richer” and God didn’t give it to one of the other less productive servants (Liberals would say “less fortunate”), we have no record of how the other seven servants did. We certainly have no record of them SPEAKING their (bad) attitudes to God like the worthless servant did. The REAL version of the bible continues with this (famous quote):
For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
On the other hand the One Talent Wonder’s attitude even robbed him of fractional interest being too discouraged to even put it in the bank. And he SPOKE words that cursed himself. While this is a strong argument that God is indeed not only a capitalist, but a Venture Capitalist and a “personal responsibility” guy, the bigger lessons prove true in real life. That is that:
- Complaining about how bad you got it will only rob you of what you already have. (Words have POWER.)
- Having a belief that God will help you to prosper if you put to work WHATEVER He has given you is the ONLY option on how to face the unknown.
- Being grateful for the OPPORTUNITY not only will keep from what you have being taken away, it gives you a chance for 500% to 1000% returns in all areas of your life.
I am thankful for God's device of "thankfulness," His Goodness, His unmerited favor in doing things for me that I'm not even aware of - and the promise that He wants to (and will) give me EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY EVERYTHING BEYOND ANYTHING that I can ask or think. In fact, He ALREADY has given it. In the gift of His Son.
So, not only am I saying “don’t worry, be happy,” I’m urging you to “don’t blame God or anyone else, but be thankful and get to work.”
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.