A Life of Gratitude
Key Verse: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thank in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
The brain is an amazing and remarkably adaptable organism. It was designed with such intricate attention to detail. Did you know that when you express gratitude for something, it releases the neurotransmitter dopamine? Dopamine makes you feel good about something, but it also is a motivator; it causes you to want to do that thing you are grateful for more. According to the National Institute of Health, gratitude also increases blood flow to the hypothalamus, which is the area of your brain that governs certain body functions. It controls your eating, drinking, and sleeping as well as your metabolism and anxiety levels. In other words, scientifically, people who are grateful eat better, exercise more, have less stress, sleep better, and have overall better health.
God has wired the human body in such a way that gratitude is beneficial to the spirit and the body. It is no wonder, then, that God instructs multiple times for the church to give thanks. In 1 Thessalonians, “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) David and other psalmists repeat over and over a refrain like this, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1) Paul instructs in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In Leviticus, God gives instructions for the fellowship offering of thanksgiving. Paul instructs yet again to the church of Ephesus to walk in the ways of Christ, to not give in to sexual immorality, impurity or any of the other garbage of the worldly standards. He instructs them to be careful of what comes out of their mouth, saying, “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:3-4) Again, in Colossians, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Furthermore, there are countless people in the bible who give thanks repeatedly to God. So, it is demonstrated and commanded to the church to give thanks to God, and it is biologically beneficial. God wants his people to praise Him with thanksgiving.
Why, then, is it so common in humanity and the church to give thanks but once a year? By all means, take the time on this Thanksgiving Day to do just that, give thanks. Enjoy time with family. Enjoy all that God has given you. Relax. But I challenge you today, to make a life of gratitude.
Taste and see that the Lord is Good. Sit in His presence, and soak in the goodness of God.
Give thanks. Begin to write what you are thankful for down, so when life gets rough, you can look back at the list and remain grateful. Allow God to give you a lens of gratitude—ask for it even.
Repent. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas where discontentment and ungratefulness has seeped in. Ask Him to “Search you and know you.”
With an attitude of thanksgiving, present all you need before God. Even if it is only a, “God, thank you for being faithful to hear my heart’s cries today.”
Listen. Write what you hear from God, if you feel led.