Posted by: Brian D. Prucey on Wed, Oct 26, 2011
Monthly pastor's newsletter article
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Robert Emmons, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and psychology professor Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, have long been interested in the role gratitude plays in physical and emotional well being. They took three groups of volunteers and randomly assigned them to focus on one of three things each week: hassles, things for which they were grateful, and ordinary life events.
The first group concentrated on everything that went wrong or that irritated them. The second group focused in on situations they felt enhanced their lives, such as, "My boyfriend is so kind and caring—I'm lucky to have him." The third group recalled recent everyday events, such as, "I went shoe shopping."
The results: The people who focused on gratitude were happier. They saw their lives in favorable terms. They reported fewer negative physical symptoms such as headaches or colds, and they were active in many ways that were good for them. Those who were grateful quite simply enjoyed a higher quality of life.
Emmons was surprised. "This is not just something that makes people happy, like a positive-thinking/optimism kind of thing. A feeling of gratitude really gets people to do something, to become more pro-social, more compassionate." Such was not the case in either of the other two groups.
Of course, God’s people do not need a scientific study to tell us that an attitude of gratitude creates a positive outlook on all of life. We also don’t need a day placed on the calendar to remind us to be thankful. Every time we gather for worship, we are expressing our thanksgiving to God for His abundant mercies and His continued goodness toward us.
Thanksgiving toward God does several things for us:
- It helps us to remember that God is sovereign in our lives
- It helps us overcome envy concerning what we don’t have
- It helps us to recognize our dependence upon God
- It helps us to remain humble
- It helps us to realize that life’s difficulties never outweigh God’s goodness
So as the Psalmist has said,
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good;
For His loving-kindness is everlasting.” (Psalms 136:1)
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