By Pastor Royston Smith
During the American Civil War, an unforgettable conversation took place between a dying solider and his chaplain. The soldier asked the chaplain to cut a lock of his hair as a keepsake for his mother. Next, he asked the chaplain to kneel and thank God. As he lay on his bed, the soldier thanked God for his mother, and his Christian faith. He expressed gratitude to God for heaven and His marvellous grace. Instead of bemoaning his pitiful end, this soldier, chose to express gratitude (Christian Herald).
The word gratitude comes from the Latin root, gratus which means “pleasing; welcome; agreeable.” It relates to the showing of deep appreciation. Unlike indebtedness, there is no obligation to repay, however, gratitude nurtures a deep desire to please. Psychologists have found that gratitude has a positive effect on the human the brain. An attitude of gratitude improves one’s health and well-being, resulting in better sleep habits, as well as a reduction in anxiety and depressive thoughts.
Being thankful improves the quality of one’s social life. Many a parent has insisted on their children saying thank you for each item received, an excellent practice. Saying “thank you” is more than just good manners. It is the main method of expressing appreciation, and this can be instrumental in building new friendships. One of America’s most loved self-help authors Melody Beattie, stated that, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”2 Corinthians 9:11. Gratitude is a habit that ought to be practiced daily. Let’s have a look at some simple and practical tips for developing an attitude of gratitude:
Keep a gratitude journal
Each day write three things for which you are thankful. Focussing on what you have, leads to the realization that you have all you really need. This is an integral part of developing a positive mindset. When facing challenges, reviewing the pages of your accumulated blessings will help to lift your spirit. Taking the time to journal improves self-esteem and reduces stress considerably. “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
Send thank-you notes
Tell other people “thank you” when they do something kind for you, no matter how small the deed. A thank-you note is a small gesture that confirms appreciation of a kind deed. It brings pleasure to both the writer and the receiver. The Apostle Paul declared, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,” 1 Thessalonians 1:2.
Create a gratitude culture
Build gratitude around you daily. Show unexpected and undeserved acts of love to someone each day. Surround yourself with grateful people. Observe their lifestyles, emulate the positives. Developing your own gratitude culture will have a lasting impact on those you encounter.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Sometimes our prayer is just another ‘shopping list’, we ask God for so many things, yet we forget to say thank Him. It is good practice to offer prayers of thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for. “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.” – Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief
Dear God, today I just want to say thank you for life, health and the other blessings you provide each day. For sending Jesus to die for our sins I am truly thankful. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.