Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Here's To Your Health

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.  —   Colossians 3:17 (NASB95)

    Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy, or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infections.
    Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. [Studies also show that] kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches, and feel more satisfied with their friends, families, and schools than those who don't.  –  Melinda Beck, "Thank You. No, Thank You," The Wall Street Journal (11-23-10)

How about that?  It turns out that being grateful is good for your overall health and enjoyment of life.  Then again, why is this surprising?  The lack of gratitude is often connected to a general pessimistic view of everything.  Pessimists are notorious for thinking negatively.  It’s pretty hard to be grateful when your view of things is constantly critical, unsatisfied, and never quite able to see the good as much as the bad.

Pessimists tend to see where things fall short, or fail.  They see where things lack or just don’t quite measure up.  They tend to focus on where things could have been better, and because they could have been better, then whatever they’re looking at is unsatisfactory.  Sometimes the pessimism causes a person to be unable to see anything positive.  Pessimists seem to believe that regardless what happens, or what they possess, it’s all going to turn out bad.  That makes it very hard to express sincere gratitude.

The Bible frequently encourages us to give thanks, to be grateful, to appreciate good things, to express in our prayers to God that we see the positive blessings in life.  We are taught to appreciate good people and the good things they do.  We’re even encouraged to remember  that God is love, and that his overall actions on our behalf are not negative, but positive and designed for our benefit.

We human beings can be very demanding.  It’s hard for us to appreciate things.  Think about Adam and Eve.  They lived in a perfect world.  The garden was a perfect place.  They enjoyed a personal relationship and experience of God.  What more could anybody ask for?  Ah, but Satan, knew something about our nature.  We’ve got a weakness, and that weakness is very much tied to our ability to see things positively and to give thanks.  Satan pounced on that part of the first woman and man and worked them toward sin.

Don’t you find it amazing that while God gave them freedom to eat of all the trees in the garden, save one, that Satan made the one a source of dissatisfaction?  Instead of giving thanks for the abundance of God’s blessings, Eve was drawn toward what she didn’t have.  She wasn’t grateful to God.  So she chased after what she didn’t have, ended up being deceived, and sinned.  Adam didn’t even give that much thought.  Eve gave him the forbidden fruit and he ate it.  What was he thinking?  We don’t know exactly, but we can safely conclude he wasn’t thinking with a grateful mind, focused on God and all the good that he had because of God’s rich blessings.

That brings us to you and me.  I don’t know about you, but I do know about me.  Gratitude isn’t always simple and easy.  It’s quite frequently the last thing to happen.  It seems that gratitude is something a person must work at.  It’s probably not going to happen automatically.  Yes, there are people for whom gratitude comes easier, but it’s probably true, even for those people, that they have to purposely think positively and express their thanks.  You’ve got a good opportunity coming up this week.  Thanksgiving Day provides a good excuse.  Let’s all promise to be more grateful.  Here’s to your health!  Thanks!