Thank You Power
Rachel Olsen

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

In my (part-time) job as a university teacher, I'm frequently reading research. I know … it sounds as dry as an over-cooked turkey. Sometimes it is but often I find interesting stuff in that scientific prose. For example, I read about a study that showed just how great it is to be grateful.

The researchers found that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, more satisfaction with life, and more vitality and optimism. All good qualities I want more of in my life. They also found grateful people show lower levels of depression and stress - two things I'd like to experience less in my life.

What's more, they found that people who write weekly in a journal about things they are thankful for are healthier. They exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, and feel better in general than people who journal about neutral or negative life events. That sounds great, and I'll take all the help I can get in the exercise department.

Finally, the research showed that people who daily count their blessings report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and energy. Wow, the benefits of being grateful are remarkable and many! I guess that shouldn't surprise me after considering today's key verse. The Bible urges us to give thanks … all the time … in every situation … because this practice is the will of God.

Let me be clear, there are terrible things that happen to us that may not be the will of God, but us praising God and giving thanks in spite of them certainly is the will of God.

As Christians, we can always find reason to give thanks – thanks for the salvation of Christ, the nearness of God, and the counsel of His Spirit for starters. The psalmist declared, "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High" (Psalm 7:17, NIV). We can do that too.

Christian poet John Milton once wrote about every grey cloud having a silver lining. Purposing to give thanks, no matter the weather, will train us to look for it. Continuing in this manner day after day ensures that gratefulness will become a normal mode of operation.

No wonder those researchers found that people regularly counting their blessings grow happier, healthier, and more optimistic. After all, that research wasn't discovering anything new, but rather confirming the will and wisdom of God. God already knows how great it is for us to be grateful. Now "science" does too.

What can you give thanks for today?

Dear Lord, thank You for this day. Thank You for Your Son and Your Spirit, given to me. Thank You for the provision of shelter and food I have today. And Lord, thank You for this reminder to become more mindful of my blessings. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Jesus Calling: A 365-Day Journaling Devotion by Sarah Young

Visit Rachel’s blog – My Life in Chapter and Verse for more on this topic

Click here for refreshing ideas on giving thanks

The Tale of Three Trees (hard cover or chubby) retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Application Steps:
Start a gratitude journal. At the end of each day between now and Christmas, take a few minutes to jot down 3-5 things you are thankful for. Keep the notebook and pencil by your bed. Your list can include "big" things like good health, or "little" things like a flower in bloom. Give thanks to God for all of these.

See if you feel any happier, healthier, or more optimistic after a few weeks of regularly giving thanks.

Reflections:
How often do I give thanks to God?

Do I notice, or remember, the little blessings in my days?

Do I want to feel happier, be healthier, and think more optimistically? More importantly, do I want to do the will of God?

Power Verses:
Psalm 118:19, "Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD." (NIV)

Psalm 107:22, "Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy." (NIV)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I few weeks ago I took the challenge to write daily on facebook something for which I am thankful. It has made a positive difference in my life. Now I take up your challenge!

Blogger Mary said...

I would like to put this into practice. Also, i'd really appreciate a citation on the research so I can read and share with others.

Blogger Kandyss said...

I have kept a journal since I was in the 4th grade (it may have been before then). While the journaling that I did before I got saved in college was not the most encouraging, it has changed tremendously, as far as the positive is concerned, but I can still improve. Sometimes I use it to vent, but I would like to use it more to give thanks to GOD and all that He is doing in my life! Thanks for the encouragement!

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

Hi Mary - follow the link to my blog (RachelOlsen@blogspot.com) and there you'll find the citation you're looking for, as well as more on this topic today.

Sweet Blessings ~ Rachel

Anonymous ERIN said...

My friends on Facebook have been posting what they are Thankful for everyday too. How can I "share" or link this article on Facebook for my friends to see? It seems that being able to share and post things like this is the new way to go and everyone is getting a Share button. Has Proverbs 31 thought of this?

Blogger Thalia said...

I was just looking for the Share button also. I am going to try an insert this as a link on my FB page.

Blogger Kiranmayi said...

I just stopped by to say Thank you for this wonderful reminder

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