FIND HOPE THROUGH GIVING THANKS
Giving thanks is so important that Americans celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday this week. Canadians celebrate it the second Monday in October. We find hope through giving thanks.
For what did you give thanks this year?
How does giving thanks give us hope?
Researchers in a UCLA study learned gratitude is a tool for a healthier life. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/health-benefits-gratitude
A review of 70 studies that included responses from more than 26,000 people found that people with higher levels of gratitude dealt with less depression than those with lower gratitude levels.
They also found that gratitude
- Lessens anxiety
- Supports heart health
- Relieves stress, and
- Improves sleep.
The more rested I am, the more thankful and hopeful I feel. So if gratitude also helps me sleep better (by reducing my anxiety and relieving stress), it is a win-win.
Feeling Gratitude v Expressing Gratitude
Pastor Rene Schlaepfer (Twin Lakes Church, Aptos, CA) asked the question, “Are you a gratitude feeler or a gratitude expresser?”
Ten lepers were healed by Jesus Christ (see Luke 17:11-19). They were all instantly cured of a debilitating and isolating disease. Sick, they couldn’t be in the presence of non-lepers (i.e. most of the population, including their families) for fear of contamination. Ostracized, they had to walk through the streets of Israel saying “Unclean, unclean,” to warn others they were coming. Imagine what that would do to your hope!
What a miracle to be instantly clean, free of the disease, its effects and isolation. Jesus told the men to show themselves to the priest, whose verification was required for a leper to return to society.
I imagine all were filled with thanksgiving, hope surging through their breasts as they rushed off to find the priests.
But only one turned back to thank Jesus! He expressed his gratitude.
Sometimes children understand this better than adults. See my post at https://www.carolloewen.com/thankfulness-out-of-the-mouths-of-babes/
Find Hope through Giving Thanks
I’ve had many reasons to feel and express gratitude this week.
- We had meaningful times with different parts of our family over the Thanksgiving weekend. We expressed gratitude that gives me hope, for family, friends, relationships. When I nitpick about little things in any relationship, I lose hope. But I find hope in giving thanks openly.
- Don and I found some key items needed to move forward with our friend Bob’s estate. I am grateful, as finding these gives me hope we’ll find other key documents.
- I’m thankful for my husband, who’s right there with me. Don is a great sleuth, investigating corners and cupboards and file drawers I haven’t yet gotten to. He’s found some important items. Most important, he understands that this (executing an estate) is a season that will pass, and he spends time working with me every chance he gets. Not only is he a wonderful help, we spend that time together.
- I appreciate our families. I’m grateful for love that survives political or faith disagreements and encompasses fun, laughter, and tears. I’m thankful I have brothers who have walked with me through life, including the death of one husband and remarriage to another.
- I’m thankful for a brief cease-fire between Israel and Palestine. For the release of 58 of the 240 hostages and the extension of the cease-fire, conditional on more releases. I pray for the release of ALL hostages, and for an end to another war.
- For home and close friends, near and far.
- For a church home that welcomes all with open arms and hearts, and challenges us to do the same in our communities.
- For Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for my sins. He made me whole, complete, perfect in the sight of God. Not because of what I’ve done. I fall far short of His mark, as do we all (Romans 3:23). But anyone who puts their trust in Jesus’ ransom is then seen through the lens of Jesus’ righteousness. What a gift!
So how do we build a ‘gratitude attitude’?
- Pay attention. Note the small blessings that come our way throughout the day, and say ‘thank you’ – to the one who blesses you, and to the God of all blessings.
- Make it a point to thank family or friends for their friendship, their influence in our lives.
- Thank the waiter who pays attention to your needs for a drink refill or your check. Don and I recently had a very attentive waiter. We asked some questions and got into a meaningful conversation about what we learned was a common faith. What hope!
- Expressing our thanks embeds it more in our own minds. I just read about the extension of the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and immediately turned to something else – this post. Rather, I need to first stop and express my thanks for this added grace in a time of war.
- When we see beauty in nature, in a newborn child, do we just look and move on, or do we express thanks for its reflection of God’s creativity?
- And, in difficult situations, can we choose to be grateful for the God who is Present, who has promised never to leave or forsake us? For His Spirit who is our guide, comforter and teacher? And for Jesus, who took on human form and paid the ransom for our sinful choices?
Being thankful releases stress and refocuses us on God’s goodness and on the hope we have in Him
So if we find hope through giving thanks and, as a result, are healthier, why do we so often feed on the negative? We know terrible things occur in our world, and sometimes in our own lives. But when we feed on the negative, hope diminishes and despair surfaces.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
While I can easily get down because of world issues and situations of dear friends—I’ve lost quite a few this year–I choose gratitude. And it is a choice, not necessarily a natural reaction. Won’t you join me to find hope through giving thanks?
These are some of my thoughts. What would you like to add?