Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. We eat great food, see good friends and family and take the time to reflect over another year of God’s goodness. Even more than that, I love giving thanks. As it turns out, there’s a good reason for that. Not only does giving thanks feel good, it actually is good for you! A recent medical study at the UCSD School of Medicine showed that fostering an “attitude of gratitude” on a daily basis drastically reduces the risk of heart disease. The doctors running the study say that gratefulness is proven to lower stress and improve mood, energy, and sleep, leading to a longer and healthier life.
I think it works the same way in our spiritual life as well. The act of giving thanks forces us to shift the focus away from ourselves and put it back where it belongs: on our heavenly Father. As the source of every good and perfect gift, God is the only natural destination for our thanks.
Think about it: is there a single gift or blessing in your life that didn’t ultimately come from God? I can’t think of any! That doesn’t mean we can’t be thankful for, and to, all those intermediary circumstances and people involved in making those ultimately good things available to us. They just give us more to be thankful for. The more we’re reminded of this, the more we keep our eyes on Christ, which puts the stresses and problems of our daily lives into much-needed perspective, freeing us to focus on what truly matters most.
So as we enter another Thanksgiving week, let’s remember to take that active spirit and discipline of giving thanks with us into the New Year. Not only is it good for us, but it also brings us into ever-deeper communion with our Triune God, who is worthy of all our praise and thanksgiving.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.