I have been practicing gratitude for years now- since even before I was a Christian. The Bible is clear that we ought to show gratitude to our Father in Heaven, but the scientific world also has proven how important it is to be thankful in our everyday lives.
I have found that embracing the power of both the spiritual and scientific benefits of gratitude can only lead to positive outcomes and also creates new ways to glorify our God!
Let’s begin with the scientific studies revolving around gratitude.
Practicing thankfulness has been proven to improve our emotional, social, and physical health. It has even been proven to increase self-esteem as well as encourage people to be more generous!
Participants who completed a four-week gratitude contemplation program reported greater life satisfaction and self-esteem than control group participants. Gratitude can help you feel better about your circumstances, which can lead to feeling better about yourself. (Rash, Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011)
I want to expand on the physical benefits for a moment:
Patients with hypertension who “count their blessings” at least once a week experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, resulting in better overall health. (Shipon, 1977)
How incredible! By simply acknowledging our blessings, we can decrease hypertension, which is an extremely common ailment among society. The benefits of being thankful are endless and ultimately lead to a happier life. BUT, even gratitude without God is fleeting.
Those who do not believe in God can find happiness and can reap the many benefits of gratitude, yet they will never be able to fill the God-sized void no matter how thankful they are for their lives. Giving thanks to the great life-giver is what distinguishes luck from blessing.
I believe all of my blessings come from the LORD, so my gratitude is now directed towards him.
Before I knew Christ, my gratitude was directed toward the world. I was still able to reap the benefits of gratitude, but I was missing out on the one thing that would bring me true freedom, transformation, and salvation. Telling God how thankful I am for all of my blessings is a fantastic way to worship Him, exalt Him, and have intimacy with Him.
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30
The benefits of healthy habits will never be enough to truly sustain mankind if God is not in the centre of it. Sure, the many benefits of gratitude can improve so many aspects of our lives, but Jesus is the only way to true life transformation that will last a lifetime (and beyond!).
God wants us to praise Him with our thanksgiving not because He is a selfish God, but because He also wants us to be blessed by the very act of showing gratitude! Not only that, He craves relationship with us and showing thankfulness to God is actually included in the example of how Jesus tells us how to pray (The Lord’s Prayer). It is important to thank God for WHO He is, not just for what He has done or given us.
What an amazing God we serve. I could say “thank you” endlessly for the millions of blessings all around me! After all, every good thing comes from the Lord.
As we give thanks this Thanksgiving, lets time to thank Him for each and every miracle in our lives, whether it’s big or small, and also for how glorious and mighty He is!