- By: Pastor Shawn
- Exploratory Musings on Faith and Life from Pastor Shawn
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
November turns our thoughts to giving thanks. Did you know that feeling thankful or grateful can help you live longer and bet-ter? Studies have shown that an “attitude of gratitude” can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better, lower your risk of heart attack, reduce visits to the doc-tor, and improve your relation-ships with others. If you express your gratitude in prayer, it will definitely improve your relation-ship with God.
We know that we should be thankful for the many blessings God has given us. If we each started to make a list, I'm sure most of us would have the same things near the top: food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, and so on. These basic necessities of life are hugely important, and they are indeed things for which we should always give thanks. But when you really start looking for things to be grateful for, you might find things beyond the obvious. I would like you to think about three other categories of Thanks.
The first is Thanks For The Little Things. There are so many little things in our lives that we might take for granted but that are worthy of thanks. A smile when you're feeling down. A loving greeting from a pet. The comfort of a favorite chair or article of clothing. An attached garage. I'm sure you can make your own list. Gathered all together, The Little Things can have a large impact on our quality of life. An attitude of gratitude means seeking out these things and giving them the thanks they are due.
The second category is Perspective Thanks. My wife, Tami, gave me a great example of this. She rides a bus from Preston to Rochester most days. While she dislikes the rigid schedule of the bus, she knows that if she were driving, she would be tempted to stay at work later to finish things. When she looks at it from a larger perspective, Tami is thankful that the bus schedule makes her come home in time to be with us before Nessa goes to bed. An attitude of gratitude helps you to see things in a new perspective.
The third category is Retrospective Thanks. This is a big one for me personally. There have been things in my life that have made me feel like a failure. But as I prepare to be a pastor, I look back at those things and I can find something I have learned from each of them, something that I can directly use in my ministry. Instead of failures, I see necessary steps on a journey that I didn't even know I was taking. And I marvel at how long God has been working on me, preparing me for what I have been called to do. An attitude of gratitude helps me give thanks for those events and how they have formed me for ministry.
One good way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to start a Gratitude Journal. There are different ways to do this, but the simplest is to find one new thing each day that you are grateful for and to write it down. You can find more information, and even apps for your smart phone or tablet, by looking online. I encourage you to try this. When you start deliberately looking for things to be thankful for, you will find that they are everywhere. God is good, and God is good to us.