Gratitude is getting a lot of attention these days. There’s tremendous health benefits that have been proven to arise from a habit of gratitude. So, thankfulness positively impacts our sleep, physical health, mental health, and relational health. In fact, thankful people are just generally happier people. But thanks should be expressed to someone, and in the case of the Christian thanks should always be expressed to our God.
Thankfulness is important first and foremost because it is our act of worship (Ps. 100:4). Yet, thankfulness has many important spiritual and practical benefits in the life of the believer. One important benefit is the way in which it can grant us a new perspective on life. Thankfulness is important particularly because it serves to reframe our life experiences.
The world is full of trouble, we know that. We experience the heartache and frustration of our fallen world in many diverse ways. Through loss, disappointment, betrayal, sickness, and sin we experience the brokenness of life. The Apostle Paul certainly knew about suffering in this life. He lists his sorrows in 2 Corinthians 11:
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (v. 24-28)
His experiences are certainly among some of the worst. Yet, this same Paul also calls our sufferings in this life a “light and momentary affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17). He says that it is not worth comparing to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us (Rom. 8:18). How can Paul say all of this in light of his own hardship?
There are many things that we can do to help us develop and cultivate this sort of eternal perspective. Gratitude serves in a particular way to help us. Suffering shrinks our world so we can only see our troubles; thankfulness broadens our world to see the many blessings of God. Suffering isolates us, telling us no one cares and no one understands; thankfulness reminds us of God’s compassionate care and provisions. Suffering tempts us to self-pity and despair; thankfulness invites us to trust a God who gives generously. Thankfulness helps to alter our perspective in this life and draw us to Him.
In light of this month’s big holiday, then, I intend to help myself and others express gratitude and remember who our God is. So, in this series I will be looking at four things for which we ought to express gratitude: (1) Our Salvation (Rom. 6:17); (2) The Salvation of Others (1 Cor. 1:4); (3) Victory over Satan, Sin, and Death (1 Cor. 15:57); (4) and The Ministry of Others (2 Cor. 8:16). I hope you’ll join with me to cultivate this attitude of gratitude for worship and for changing our perspective.