Author: Lynne Carter
If you’re a mom like me (or you’ve heard your mom say these same words) you’ve possibly spent countless hours trying to teach your children to be politely thankful for gifts. Perhaps you too have exhausted yourself in endless attempts to persuade your wondrous offspring to PLEEAASEE write a thank you note to the generous individuals that have faithfully honored the years of birthdays, confirmations, graduations and any one of life’s celebratory moments. “Please, I beseach of thee, show your thankfulness for that gift you were given. Is that too much to ask?” my pleading voice again screeches into the same gray abyss. Yes, please tell me I’m not the only one that has repeated those words to my children!
As essential as E=MC2, most moms agree that the proper etiquette equation for a present dictates: “receipt of gift = thankfulness”. But what if we flip things over and wrote a new equation? What if we realized that actually being thankful is the true gift. Something like: “< thankful = < gift”. When we start with a heart of thankfulness, then almost everything around us is a gift. Working from a mindset of thankfulness, one is eager to exchange notes and words of gratitude instead of responding out of obligation. Even science and research are finding that there are many “gifts” or benefits to just making our hearts thankful.
Starting with our very own hearts, being thankful can actually help regulate our heart rates and improve our immune systems. Additionally, ending our day with thoughts of all that we’re thankful for helps us fall into a deeper and more restful sleep. Psychologically, being thankful gives us a brighter outlook, often makes us a better friend, improves self esteem and can even help us overcome trauma better. Thankful teens are reported to be more likely to make better grades, and research shows that if we continually find things to be thankful for with our friends, family and partners, the result is often stronger relationships. Even saying “thank you” to a stranger for an act of kindness has the effect of drawing them to you and can be the initiation into a new friendship.
Certainly the benefits of a thankful attitude and heart are tremendous, but what does the Bible say about being thankful? Psalm 30:12 reads: “That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Ín our acts of praise and thanksgiving we glorify God. The actual act of being thankful confirms that one believes in a real God and that He is deserving of our never ending gratitude. Think about it-can a person be thankful if they don’t have anyone to be thankful to? Yes, they can be doggone real happy to receive something, but the expression of thankfulness is not complete unless it is addressed to a recipient. As with David, he could not hold back his thankfulness to his Lord. “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High”. David’s beautiful words bring glory to the Lord and those who hear these words of praise in turn are brought into the Lord’s glorious light. David’s thankfulness is not sent out into a vague oblivion. It is directed to God and rooted in his firm belief of God’s presence. David’s praises of thankfulness are an actual confirmation of his unwavering belief in God.
In our words and deeds of thanksgiving we not only glorify God, but we bear witness to all that we have a mighty God worthy of pursuing. It’s a contagious witness that brings other’s eyes right to the One who will indeed gift them with life’s richest gifts. Isaiah 12:4 says “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth”. Indeed our shouts and words of gratitude are some of the richest witness we can share.
As we look forward to November’s day of Thanksgiving, I pray that our hearts will not only be thankful this one designated day, but that they can be soaked in the richness of thankfulness every day. May we always walk in the thankfulness that brings light to darkness and glory to God. Being thankful is truly the gift that keeps giving and giving…way beyond the turkey and dressing.
Psalm 30:12 “That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”