(this is the first in a series of articles with missionary wives in mind!)
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name!” (Psalm 100:4) Wait, this isn’t November, it’s January, right? Well, we can be thankful any time of the year, and what better time to focus on being thankful than at the start of the New Year, 2018!
How many of us make resolutions, but they don’t seem to last long? So, instead of a resolution, how about starting the year determined to be thankful and give thanks? What exactly does that mean?
Gratitude is defined as “a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; thankfulness.” Thankfulness has a similar meaning, “feeling or expressing thanks; grateful.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary).
There are numerous verses in the Bible telling us to give thanks, to be thankful, in everything to give thanks, and to be thankful to God.
We give thanks, and we are grateful, because God commands us to do this. But science is now catching up with the Bible and has found that being thankful or grateful is actually good for us physically.
It has been found that gratitude can help us sleep better.
Giving thanks can help us realize that we are entitled to nothing, so we should be thankful for everything
Thankfulness can inspire us to contribute more to whatever work we are doing.
Gratitude can also help us deal with changes in our life. Missionaries know all about change! Training your brain to notice the good things and focus on them is a good thing!
Gratitude even has a positive effect on our brain, releasing us from toxic emotions and providing lasting positive effects. (Robert Emmons, Theo Koffler)
Some practical things you can do as you are working to keep an “attitude of gratitude” is to keep a journal where you write down what you are thankful for. If there is a person you are thankful for, you might even write them a letter or send them a text or message and tell them so.
I’ve always liked the outline in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, where we are commanded to “Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
It’s a great way to pray every day: Rejoice—praise God for who He is, Pray—let your requests be made known to God, and Give thanks—thank God for what He has done—for all his many blessings. On hard days, I can always thank God for life and breath to live another day—He must have something for me to do because I am still here!
I challenge you to start out the New Year strong with a focus on being thankful and grateful to God for all He is and all He has done for us, big or small, every day! See if this perspective of gratitude and thankfulness helps you have a great start to your new year!
-by Pam Konnerup