After many years of delay and with a certain amount of reluctance, I am writing my first blog!
I guess the main reason it has taken me so long is that I’ve never wanted to be seen as promoting myself! Secondly, I wasn’t sure I had much to write that would be of help to others anyway! All that changed a few weeks back when I was having a conversation with my wife Liz. It was regarding the topic of thanksgiving…
Back in 2010, I first began to look at the subject of thanksgiving. I’m not sure why, but I suspect that God graciously led me to it. You see, for some time I had been praying for a greater sense of contentment in my life. I frequently felt depressed and regularly grumbled about pretty much everything! To try and solve this, I shared with a small group of friends, and asked them to pray that I’d find greater contentment in life. Little did I know; our prayers would begin to be answered as I prepared for my first talk on thanksgiving.
After a thorough study on thanksgiving in the Bible and various additional research; I structured the message around three questions. Here’s a brief summary of what I shared:
1) Why should we give thanks?
Firstly, because God tells us to! In 1 Thess 5:18 Paul says, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) This should be enough for someone who believes in Jesus. However, to add further weight to the argument I also spoke about various scientific studies that have been done. In 2003, psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough published a paper looking at the impact of gratitude on peoples moods. In three separate experiments, people were asked to write down 5 things they were grateful for each week and list ways they were better off than others. Those who did this over a 10 week period felt 25% happier, more optimistic about the future and better about their lives. The participants of one group had chronic health issues. They reported feeling more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, and many reported that they were sleeping better. What a difference thanksgiving can make!
2) How should we give thanks?
Thanksgiving, in essence, is expressing appreciation for benefits or blessings. In the Bible believers gave thanks publicly at mealtimes and during meetings. However, much thanksgiving went on behind the scenes, in private. This is especially noticeable in the life of the Apostle Paul, who regularly and systematically gave thanks for many things. Here is a list of things that believers gave thanks for in the Bible:
- Spiritual gifts
- Answered prayer
- Good decisions made in the past
- Provision from God
- Other people
- Revelation of truth
- Victory over sin and death
- For forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ
3) When should we give thanks?
The simple answer to that is provided in 1 Thess 5:8, ‘in all circumstances.’ Is that possible? Yes! Because whatever situation we’re currently in, there’s always something to give thanks for. The problem is we tend to forget the good things and dwell on the bad. Our thinking becomes dominated by the difficulties to such an extent that we lose sight of all the blessings! Giving thanks regularly helps us to remember all the good things that we enjoy, whether it’s food, health, family or the amazing world that we live on.
That was the message. Over the next couple of years, this became a vital new discipline in my own life. Now, I can honestly say that I am happier and more content in life because of thanksgiving. Having learnt this lesson personally, and experienced its benefits; I wanted to share it with others. So over the next few months I’ll be writing a series of blogs on this topic. I hope you find them encouraging!