“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18
According to biblestudytools.com, the Greek word for “thanks” is “eucharisteo,” which means grace. Why is this important?
This verse is telling us that more than anything our thanks and gratitude should be based on the grace that God has given us through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
Everything else starts and flows from this because without it, we wouldn’t be here.
Its obvious that being grateful is an integral part in our walk with God and its possible that God designed us in a way to reap the benefits of having a grateful heart.
Here are some of the benefits that have been studied.
1. Improved self-control.
A study done by Northeastern University looked at people’s ability to wait for a financial reward based on their emotional state. Participants were put into a state of either happy, neutral, or grateful.
People who were grateful showed significantly more restraint and patience for the reward than those in the other states.
2. Feel better about your life, increased optimism.
According to Berkeley, people who kept journals listing the things they were grateful for showed increased physical activity, more feelings of fulfillment in their life, and an overall more optimistic view on life.
3. Improved alertness, enthusiasm, determination, energy, and sleep quality.
Daily discussions about gratitude by people have shown increased levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, energy, and improvements in their quality of sleep. They also found lower overall levels of stress and depression.
4. Improved Heart Health.
In one study, researchers looked at 600 patients over the course of five years and studied to see if there was a link between gratefulness/positivity and coronary artery disease. They found that those who were more grateful had increased levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduced their risk for stroke.
5. Less Envious.
Those who actively take time to be grateful were found to be less envious of people and placed less importance on material possessions.
How you can be more grateful in your walk with God:
1. Focus your thoughts on the sacrifice Christ made for you.
Like I mentioned before, our thanks is really rooted in God’s grace for us which is most aptly demonstrated in Christ’s sacrifice for you and me. Its vital that we make a daily routine to give thanks by remembering the blood that Jesus shed for us.
This is important for a couple reasons: it helps keep us humble, it reminds us of God’s love for us, and helps us get in the mindset of gratitude which can shield us from harmful things like depression and stress which are commonly experienced when we go through tough times.
2. Make a gratitude journal.
Everyday, write down one thing that you are grateful for. It can be something that a friend or loved one did for you or something simple like God helping you get to work that day. Whatever it is, make a priority to do it everyday so you can establish an attitude of gratitude.
3. Have daily discussions about gratitude.
One of the things that I love most about Christmas and other holidays is the time spent with family where we sit around and talk about all of the memories and fun times we had together. So why don’t we make these discussions about gratitude a daily activity?
One good example of a time you can do this is when you sit down for dinner. Right before you pray, take a moment and go around the table so everyone can say one thing they were grateful for that day.
When your going through tough times, take a deep breath and give thanks for all of the things that God has given you. It won’t be easy at first but the more you practice it, the closer you will be to experiencing a more fulfilling life that is centered on God’s grace for us.