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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Spiritual Outlook: The therapy of Thanksgiving

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Why did Jesus come?

A model of a mighty man

How does God guide us?

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.” Psalm 92:1-4 KJV

How often have you thanked God this year? Or let me reverse that. How often have you complained this year? If countless times, then maybe it is necessary that a special day is set aside to give thanks.

In Scripture, we are commanded numerous times to “give thanks unto the Lord.” There are verses in both testaments alluding to the concept of giving thanks. Giving of thanks is an expression of appreciation and a demonstration of gratitude. With the command to give thanks unto the Lord, we are also given good reason why we should; for Lord is good and his mercy — steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 106:1; 107:118:1; 136:1).

Yet in Psalm 92, the psalmist goes beyond us merely giving thanks unto the Lord. The first verse starts out stating, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.” He seems to stress that there is something good, something of worth or beneficial, in giving God thanks.

What is the good in giving thanks to God? One, thanking God is the appropriate response, right thing to do because he is our creator, savior, sustainer and provider. Two, thanking God enriches our spiritual relationship with him.

Thirdly, giving thanks to the Lord is therapeutic. Therapeutic is a word that relates to therapy, something that helps heal or restore to health. Giving thanks to God produces some therapeutic benefit in our lives. A grateful heart makes a happier heart and life better.

The Emmons and McCullough gratitude research study in 2003 found when they asked people to notice things for which they were grateful, those people reported being 25% happier at the end of 10 weeks than were people who were asked to notice either hassles or just regular events.

A man who had always been rather negative was constantly bothered by things. His health was poor, his business was failing, and the world around him was a terrible state. He always complained about himself and his circumstances. But one day people noticed that he had changed considerably. He was vital, vibrant, enthusiastic and seemingly the picture of health. When asked to explain the marked change, he said, “It’s the therapy of giving thanks.”

Every night in bed this man thought of all the good things that had happened to him that day. Then he would pull the bedcovers up around his neck and say to the Lord, “Thanks for everything.” He turned out the light, and peacefully went to sleep.

When we say “thank you Lord” from the bottom of our hearts, we are on the way to being healthier and happier.

In looking back over this year, we have many things, even if not considered much, to be thankful for regardless of the problems or issues we faced, especially those due to COVID-19. I’m reminded of the hymn “Count Your Blessings”:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

The therapy of thanksgiving is a blessing. Giving thanks does not require having much, it requires being grateful for what you have. When we express an attitude of gratitude, we develop a propensity to find more of which to be thankful. Counting your blessings has far greater benefit than counting your burdens.

Whatever your circumstance is this Thanksgiving holiday, be thankful because it is a good thing to give thanks to God.

Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at jabeaven@gmail.com or Twitter @jbeaven.

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