Thursday, November 22, 2012

We Were Made To Be Thankful

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9.15

The Creator made you and me to be thankful creatures.  His loving law, in fact, commands that we live before him in sheer, arms-spread-wide gratitude.  And when we do so, we become more and more truly human... we become more of who we were made to be.

(Just do a verse search in the Scriptures on words like "thanks."  It's pretty stunning.)

And, sadly, the reverse is true as well.  When we close off our hearts to the lavish love of God and become thankless, ungrateful people, we become barren, disagreeable, fruitless, miserable wretches.  We become a ruin of humanity --  unnaturally self-absorbed, faultfinding, insensible, demanding grumbles.  Glorious ruins.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
1 Chronicles 16.34

The following is a letter by Cherie Harder, President of The Trinity Forum.  It's a wonderful Thanksgiving reflection.  I hope you'll read & enjoy it...

In the last few years, gratitude has become a hot research topic. As positive psychology has grown in popularity as an academic discipline, ever more studies have been devoted to plumbing its potency in enhancing health, productivity, and happiness.
And certainly, the findings are striking: an “attitude of gratitude” improves one’s job performance, family relationships, and love life. Studies show that a propensity towards thankfulness lowers stress, boosts energy, increases resiliency, strengthens the immune system, deepens sleep, reduces the likelihood of depression, and improves memory. Thankful people reportedly exercise more, live longer, maintain more friendships, are more likely to volunteer and demonstrate altruism, find it easier to forgive, navigate transitions, and cope with disappointment; and have a clearer sense of their life’s purpose.
It is, perhaps, an excellent example of William Bennett’s definition of social science research as “the elaborate demonstration of the obvious using methods that are obscure.”
In many ways, tomorrow’s delightful holiday reminds us of what we have known all along: that we are made to be thankful, and there is joy in the doing. In giving thanks, we become not merely happier, but closer to who we were made to be. Acknowledging and praising the One who has given us such good gifts (including life itself), and whose nature it is to lavish such grace, is intrinsically an elevating and life-giving act.
And yet, it can be so hard (at least for yours truly). It does not always come easily or naturally – which may be why the Bible urges constancy in developing a grateful heart ("in everything give thanks") and why psychologists and self-help gurus advocate “gratitude journals” as ways to develop the discipline and regular practice of thankfulness. And it may well have been one of the reasons that the Pilgrims, in the midst of extraordinary difficulty, determined that a community observance of Thanksgiving was precisely what they most needed.
As English poet George Herbert wrote, just a few years after the first Thanksgiving:
Thou has given so much to me
Give one thing more – a grateful heart…
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if thy blessings had spare days
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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